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Wildfire: British Columbia Burns

by Charles Anderson and Lori Culbert

While it is often difficult to fathom the demand for a souvenir book of a tragedy like last summer’s fires in British Columbia’s Interior, Wildfire: British Columbia Burns certainly brings those events into sharp focus. The text, by The Province’s Charles Anderson and The Vancouver Sun’s Lori Culbert, draws heavily on (and recasts into a single narrative) both papers’ coverage of the fires that destroyed 250,000 hectares of forest and claimed the lives of three pilots fighting the blazes. This approach lends the book both an involving immediacy and a critical journalistic distance.

The photographs, taken by Sun and Province photographers, are striking. From images of flames looming over houses in Kelowna to the back cover image of new growth in a forest of devestation; from the recurring motif of burnt homes and homeless families to the mass outpouring of public support and the courageous work of the firefighters, the pictures manage to at once chronicle the tragedy and plumb the emotional depths of the events.

With the generally high quality of Wildfire, and a portion of the proceeds from the book going to the Red Cross B.C. Fire Fund, it’s reassuring to see something positive coming from such devastation.