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From the Fire: “A Thin Cloak of Survival”

January 3, 2008

“Tales From the Fires” contestants in search of inspiration should give a few minutes to Janet Wilson’s “A Thin Cloak of Survival“, which ran recently in the Los Angeles Times:

They had drilled on this situation dozens of times, and if anyone remembered the training, it was rookie firefighter Jason Carl. Ninety-two days out of the Orange County fire academy, on a smoky slope in Santiago Canyon, Carl was reaching for the one thing he’d been told he should never need: the flimsy emergency shelters known as shake-n-bakes.

Wilson tells the story of Jason Carl, a rookie firefighter from Huntington Beach, who found himself trapped within the conflagration known as the Santiago Fire. Unable to cut a path out of the fire, Carl’s team hunkered down, deploying emergency shelters, and waited.

Perhaps our own experiences were not nearly so dramatic. Or maybe they were. What did you see? What did you feel? Did you find yourself in a strange place, seeking shelter among hundreds of people you’d never met? Or had you stayed as long as possible, determined to help protect your home? Did you escape with the fire nipping at your heels? Were you stuck in long lines of traffic funneling out of hot zones? Am I being melodramatic enough? Quite obviously, having missed the occasion, I have no idea what I’m asking you to write down for us. Which is, of course, why we need you to write it down.

We want to know your stories. And you want to tell us. Don’t forget to review the contest rules. We’re looking forward to the reading, so good writing to you.

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