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New Book Chronicles Rim Fire

Sonora, CA – As the Mother Lode recovers from the disastrous and deadly Butte Fire, a behind-the-scenes book about the largest blaze ever to burn through the Sierra Nevada has been published.

Written by BJ Hansen, Clarke Broadcasting’s News Director, California’s Rim Fire: Behind the Headlines covers the third largest wildfire in the state’s history, its flames attacking both the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park around this time just two years ago. According to Hansen, the book is intended as a comprehensive account, aimed at answering lingering questions; providing little-known details ranging from firefighting strategies to political moves; and sharing firsthand accounts from impacted residents and key officials.

After deciding to pursue the project in late 2013, around the time the 257,314-acre fire reached containment, Hansen states, “Number one, I thought it would be great to have a historical document…it was such a big event for this community and there was so much happening behind the scenes that covering it went really fast.” In addition to countless fire officials calling the Rim Fire one of the most complex major wildfires they had dealt with, Hansen says actions and decisions made surrounding the disaster presented so many questions that, as a reporter, he knew “a beginning to end” look at what really happened would help provide an official record.

Behind-the-scenes Stories, Heroes 

Hansen points to a number of perilous close calls not previously reported in detail. Among these are the details surrounding the sudden explosion from 250 acres, two days after it first ignited in a remote part of the Stanislaus National Forest; burnout operations in a critical perimeter area of Paper Cabin Ridge that helped spare communities like Tuolumne; and how the fire came close to wiping out Drew Meadow Base Camp on various occasions.

The book also examines the divisive political debates that the fire has spawned, the controversial investigation into the cause, and decisions that have been second guessed.

In gathering backstories for the book, Hansen notes, “It was fun to hear stories from people, firsthand, who responded to the fire, people who stepped up to help.” As he recalls, over 5,000 firefighters were brought into Tuolumne County from all over the country to battle the blaze.

Generally, Hansen says, “Once a fire is contained, they leave and their stories go with them, and that’s one thing that I wanted to do…bring those stories back…and…learn a little bit more from the people who were calling the shots…what certain decisions were made to…get the full picture of the Rim Fire.”

More details on Hansen’s retrospective, and details on where the book can be purchased, are available online at rimfirebook.com. It is available at various local locations. Additionally, Inner Sanctum Cellars in Jamestown will host a signing with the author this Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m. A second signing, scheduled Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. will take place at Skyline Place Assisted Living Center, in Sonora.