Writer Lauren Strait
“Firefighters missing. Presumed dead.” Those were the words posted on Twitter on June 30, 2014, in regards to the wildfire that broke out in Yarnell, Arizona.
“I have a very clear recollection of where I was when the fire started,” says Fernanda Santos, Phoenix bureau chief of the New York Times. “We were enjoying pizza and wine with neighbors at our Phoenix home.”
Perusing Twitter is part of a reporter’s job, on or off duty, Santos explains. When she read those words, she packed her bag, grabbed her laptop and told her husband and daughter, “Mommy will be back.”
While the news uncovered the smoldering questions about the tragic loss of 19 hotshots, Santos felt the burning desire to share one part of the story she thought was lost.
“It wasn’t just about what went wrong,” she says. “Not that the answer as to the cause of their deaths was not important. But the real lesson was this crew, the culture they built and their last...