The 'Fire Line' honors Granite Mountain Hotshots

Posted at 5:45 PM, May 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-03 22:21:44-04

“The Fire Line” is an in-depth look at the Granite Mountain Hotshots and the risks wildland firefighters take to protect people and property. ABC 15’s Danielle Lerner went one-on-one with the author, Fernanda Santos.

Journalists from all over the world stood in Yarnell three summers ago asking “why” and “how,” but Santos wanted to know “what” and “who.”

“What kind of job is it and what kind of men are those that choose to stay together when they are faced with death?” Santos said.  “Why is it that none of them run, when face to face with this wall of fire?”

As Phoenix Bureau Chief for the New York Times Santos poured through documents, spent days with the Hotshots’ family members and friends, even took a Hotshot training course trying to find answers.

“Most people have no idea what wildland firefighters do,” said Santos.

Make no mistake “The Fire Line” is not a blame game, but rather an intimate portrait of this unique crew and the dangerous, often mysterious job they loved so much.

“Rest assured that between that town and the flames there are 20 men and women,” said Santos. “When you see that plane on TV I want people to think about it, these are our kids out there.”

Through all the research and interviews it turns out Santos’ questions may have been answered best by the Hotshots themselves, summed up in a memo written by Eric Marsh.

“Maybe to answer the question of who we are, it would be helpful to explore who or what we are not. We are not nameless or faceless, we are not expendable, we are not satisfied with mediocrity, we are not willing to accept being average, we are not quitters,” Santos read from “The Fire Line.”

“That’s exactly what I want people to think about when they read this,” said Santos.

Santos will be at the Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix on Thursday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m.