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The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57

The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57

Audio CD(Unabridged)

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The Esperanza Fire started October 26, 2006, in the San Jacinto Mountains above the Banning Pass near Cabazon, California. It destroyed 41,000 acres and dozens of homes and cost the taxpayers $16 million dollars. But by far the highest costs of the conflagration were the lives of the five-man crew of Engine 57, the first engine crew ever killed fighting a wildland blaze. Fire and superheated gases had erupted in a freak “area ignition,” sending flames racing across three-quarters of a mile in mere seconds, engulfing the crew and the house they were defending.The deadly blaze was quickly determined to be no accident. Within a week, serial arsonist Raymond Lee Oyler was arrested and charged with almost two dozen counts of arson-and five counts of first degree murder. The Esperanza Fire recounts with drama and precision the gripping details of the fire and of Oyler's precedent-shattering trial and its stunning conclusion.John Maclean spent more than five years researching the Esperanza Fire and covering the trial of Raymond Oyler. The result is a thrilling, moment-to-moment insider's chronicle of that devastating and tragic inferno and the pursuit, capture, and prosecution of the man who intentionally set it.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781622312665
Publisher: HighBridge Company
Publication date: 08/27/2013
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 600
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Pete Larkin is an AudioFile Earphones Award winner and a 2014 Audie Award finalist. He was the public address announcer for the New York Mets from 1988 to 1993. An award-winning on-camera host, Pete has worked on many industrial films and has done hundreds of commercials, promos, and narrations.

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Excerpt from The Esperanza Fire

When Courts at last saw the second flare-up, he threw off the hose packs and began a race for his life, up toward the road. Like Mitchell before him, Courts also took a backward glance – the need for a last look back seems to be embedded in the human psyche – and what he saw stopped him cold: the overweight and exhausted Miller was sitting on a rock taking a breather.
“Lets get out of here!” Courts yelled.
“I’m okay here,” Miller replied.
“The hell you are!” Courts shouted. “Let’s get out of here!”
Courts resumed his mad scramble up the slope. His legs burned and turned to rubber, his breath came in shallow gasps, his throat turned cotton-dry. He kept repeating to himself, as he later told fire investigators, “I’m going to make it! I’m going to make it no matter what.”
Twice more he glanced back and saw Miller, on his feet at last, struggling less than 20 feet behind him. The line between life and death came down to a few feet, a few seconds. Courts stumbled as he tried to lift a leg, nearly petrified by exhaustion, over the guardrail at the roadway. Never had anything so low seemed so insurmountably high. He managed to crawl over the guardrail, but his legs failed him and he collapsed in a heap. When he recovered enough to rise, he stumbled back to the guardrail and looked down for Miller. As Courts peered into the abyss, the fire roared “and a large mass of smoke, ashes, and heat” smacked him in the face. Barely able to breathe, he lurched across the highway to the partial protection of a cutbank and fell to the ground. He pulled his fire shirt over his head and put his face in the dirt, trying to suck life from the thin layer of oxygen at ground level. He stayed like that for long minutes, tucked against the cutbank, his lungs aching and his breath coming in snatches.
When the worst had passed, he got to his feet, walked back to the guardrail, and, eyes smarting, tried to see through the smoke. After a few seconds he made out a human form about 10 yards below him. It was Miller, flat on his back, with his clothes on fire.

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