01/08/01 Siskiyou's Review of Fire on the Mountain: Five
The book consumed all my off time. At times I would choke at little. I am sure the smoke in the air around me, the sound of air tankers, lead planes, and helicopters helped fill in the mental picture. I kept asking my self why this air force was not supporting the people on the mountain when they died. I wanted to shout out, do not go down that hill. While reading the book I realized I had worked with two other survivors from the fire earlier in the season. Folks this is about real fire people.
I already had anger about budget cuts and downsizing that had a negative effect on safe fire fighting. Then the back filling of key fire management positions with people who did not, or do not have the skills and ability required to manage the program surfaced in this book... According to the author, the investigation was a mess. Poor investigative techniques resulted in poor interview documentation resulted in unreadable work products and disagreement on the final work product. I give credit to those who disagreed with the final investigative product. Did decisions made on the mountain stem from political discussions made in the White House, in the Congress, and by the BLM at the National level? While fingers were pointed at the leadership on the fire, were others hiding behind their political cover? The author noted that he limited the scope of his work to the incident but left open the door for the reader to wonder about those who had responsibility off the mountain.
Clearly the investigation team needed to have included a few trained investigators. There are many investigators in the FS and BLM with fire backgrounds. At the time of the incident and after reading the book I question the tactics on the fire. Many rules were broken on the mountain and it cost lives.
Learn from the book. It is noon January 8, 2001, there is a major fire in Southern California and the news just showed a fire in Steephollow Creek, on the Tahoe N.F. Steephollow is steep timber country which is normally covered with snow this time of year.. The point is, the South Canyon fire occurred in drought condition fuels. California is fighting drought condition fires right now. Take a lesson from this book. Read it, and train all those new hires to fight fire safely.
When I returned home last fall I sent an e-mail to my relatives recommending that they read Fire on the Mountain. It is a good insight into the wildland fire fighting community. I rate it five chainsaws.
02/13/02 RAW's Review of Fire on the Mountain: five saws
I was given this book as a Christmas present. I had never heard of it before, but as a fairly new wildland firefighter I was looking for any source of knowledge I could use. Besides being just a great read, this book lets you see more closely how things work behind the scenes of fires, or should I say how they can get screwed up very easily. This is the type of book that helps you learn from other peoples mistakes, especially in the highly dangerous job of wildland firefighting. Once i read the first page of this book, I couldn't stop reading it. I'm sure I'll read this book many more times. Five chainsaws.
06/25/03 FedFire's Review of Fire on the Mountain: four