Creating the California Burns Book

As the ashes of the Woolsey Fire drifted over the Pacific Ocean, I sat at my desk, reviewing a combination of news articles and fire department briefing documents from not only Woolsey, but several additional fires as well. These fires had been fast-moving, remarkably destructive, and people had lost their lives.

I hope you enjoy the book, and note that this blog will contain personal stories, behind the scenes reveals, and much more.

Why, in this modern age were so many people at risk? Why, when there are so many fire agencies, could a fire like Woolsey rage to the beach as an unstoppable force? The answers are complex, and their are arguable factors that experts may debate, but one thing seemed certain: while people are curious and even intregued about wildfire, those who live in the Wildland Urban Interface continue to take risks that lead to the destruction of their homes, and in some cases the needless loss of life.

These are strong words, no doubt. And, there’s no intent to pont a finger under the unbrella of blame at residents of homes in these at-rick communities. It is, however clear that many residents continue to miss some of the most important actions that could help them prepare their property, their escape paths, and the actions they take – to escape and survive even the fastest moving fires.

Our organization works with not only firefighters, but fire photographers as well. In looking over some of the images shared by several of our photographer friends, the drama of these fires stood out as stark and significant stories about the power of wildfire and the impact it has on people, communities, and first responders.

“A book might get people’s attention!” I thought. And so, I started to work with my in-house team to develop a concept for a book that was both informative and educational. The result is California Burns, Volume 1. I hope the images in this book demonstrate the power of wildfire. I know the downloadable materials contained within it will help make everyone who reads and downloads the escape plans and other materials safer.

The initial release of the book is an interactive book available via the Apple iBook store. It includes video clips, photo galleries, and downloadable fire safety materials. We’re also considering a table top book – a hard copy print book, but prior to publishing that, we’ll need to find a budget to do so.

This book has been crafted with care. The photographers involved are some of the best in the business. They put their lives at risk in many of the same ways firefighters do – their skill is in documenting what has occurred – creating a history lesson of sorts. These photographers are often underestimated for not only their photography skill, but their understanding of the fire service, fire operational and tactical methods, and how to integrate themselves while staying safe and following common wildfire related guidelines.

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