Tom Ribe's clear, scrupulous and thorough account of the Los Alamos/Bandelier fire of 2000 is a white-knuckle narrative, yet meticulously accurate. -Roger G. Kennedy, Former Director, U.S. National Park Service; Director Emeritus, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution and author of Wildfire and Americans Infer by Committee tells the story of America's worst prescribed fire disaster, the Cerro Grande Fire of 2000 which burned 250 homes in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The fire started with a National Park Service prescribed fire that went out of control and ended up burning 42,000 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest. A thorough review of the investigations of the fire and the policy changes that resulted from this seminal event in American fire history are also an integral part of this examination. Prescribing fire on the landscape involves risk. Sometimes, as with the Cerro Grande Fire, the risk taken results in disaster. For land managers, there really is option but to prescribe fire and take risk-to restore fire to a landscape where fire is native and necessary for the survival of biological systems. Cerro Grande showed us both the consequences of taking a risk with fire and more dramatically, the consequences of avoiding that risk.
Tom Ribe is an expert on public lands policy and law. He has his MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon, has worked for the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. He has written extensively on public lands. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.