Monday 30 October 2017

Book Review - Inside the Inferno: A Firefighter's Story of the Brotherhood that Saved Fort McMurray

Last year I watched the news in fascination. The images of cars driving along highways with flames shooting hundreds of feet in the air behind them while evacuating Fort McMurray are forever imprinted in my mind. I can't imagine leaving everything I know and own behind, especially all those personal pictures and mementos

Inside the Inferno is a story, not only about the brave fight to save Fort McMurray but also the story of the loss that most of the residents suffered.

An action-packed, on-the-ground memoir of the Fort McMurray wildfire and the courage, resilience, and sacrifice of the firefighters who saved the city.

In May 2016, what began as a remote forest fire quickly became a nightmare for the ninety thousand residents of Fort McMurray. A perfect combination of weather, geography and circumstance created a raging wildfire that devoured everything in its path. Winds drove the flames towards the town, forcing the entire population to evacuate. As the fire swept through neighbourhoods, it fell to the men and women of the fire department to protect the city.

Born and raised in Fort McMurray, Damian Asher was a fifteen-year veteran and captain in the city’s fire department. Day after day, Damian and his crew remained on the front lines of the burning city. As embers rained down around them, they barely slept, pushing their minds and bodies to the brink as they struggled to contain the fire. As he led his crew through the smoke and the flames, Damian had little time to worry about whether the house he had built for his family was still standing. With media unable to get into the locked-down city, the world watched in hope and fear, wondering what was happening on the fiery streets.

Finally, after weeks of battling the wildfire, the firefighters managed to regain control. When the smoke cleared, much of the city had been destroyed. Would things ever be the same? How would the city reunite? What would it take to rebuild life in Fort McMurray?

The story of the fire is told very well by firefighter Damian Asher. It is easy to forget how long this blaze burned and threatened the town, but he does an excellent job in not only explaining the exhaustion of the firefighters, but the physical and mental toll it took all those involved. Imagine fighting a wildfire that is threatening your community, while wondering if your own home is still standing or not.

This is a fast paced book that covers the journey of one man through the disaster. It is well worth reading.

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