The raging Arizona wildfire that claimed the lives of 19 men of an elite firefighting team earlier this week may remind some of a book that was published over twenty years ago. Norman Maclean's Young Men and Fire (1992) was a detailed account at the tragedy of another special group of 16 firefighters, 13 who perished during a Montana wildfire. Having grown up in Montana and having worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a teenager, Maclean re-creates the tragedy -- the perfect storm of nature's fury and miscalculation. I can't remember why I unloaded my copy (it happens), but I do remember the meditative quality of Maclean investigation of the fire and the questioning his own mortality. (Maclean died two years before the book was published.) Later the book was reviewed on the front page of New York Times Book Review.
Maclean is probably better known for his 1976 book of short stories, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories, which was made into a 1992 movie directed by Robert Redford and starring Brad Pitt.
I hope that in the future some writer honors those who died in Arizona, the way Maclean remembered those who burned to death in Montana in 1949.