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About Fernanda Santos
Fernanda Santos is the author of "The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots," winner of the Western Writers of America 2017 Spur Award for Best First Book Nonfiction. The book tells the story of the unbreakable bond among nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshots, a band of firefighters killed on June 30, 2013 while battling a wildfire in Arizona.
Fernanda has reported in three languages, in Latin America and across the United States. As a New York Times correspondent in the American Southwest, she once hiked across the desert to write about the migrants who have died while trying to make it from Mexico to the United States and helicoptered down into the bottom of the Grand Canyon to meet the man whose job is to keep the lights on at Grand Canyon National Park.
She got her start in journalism in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, her home country, where she bore witness to violence, inequality and immeasurable hope. In those scenes, she found her passion for telling true stories.
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“In Fernanda Santos’ expert hands, the story of 19 men and a raging wildfire unfolds as a riveting, pulse-pounding account of an American tragedy; and also as a meditation on manhood, brotherhood and family love. The Fire Line is a great and deeply moving book about courageous men and women.”
- Héctor Tobar, author of Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free.
When a bolt of lightning ignited a hilltop in the sleepy town of Yarnell, Arizona, in June of 2013, setting off a blaze that would grow into one of the deadliest fires in American history, the twenty men who made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots sprang into action.
An elite crew trained to combat the most challenging wildfires, the Granite Mountain Hotshots were a ragtag family, crisscrossing the American West and wherever else the fires took them. The Hotshots were loyal to one another and dedicated to the tough job they had. There's Eric Marsh, their devoted and demanding superintendent who turned his own personal demons into lessons he used to mold, train and guide his crew; Jesse Steed, their captain, a former Marine, a beast on the fire line and a family man who wasn’t afraid to say “I love you” to the firemen he led; Andrew Ashcraft, a team leader still in his 20s who struggled to balance his love for his beautiful wife and four children and his passion for fighting wildfires. We see this band of brothers at work, at play and at home, until a fire that burned in their own backyards leads to a national tragedy.
Impeccably researched, drawing upon more than a hundred hours of interviews with the firefighters’ families, colleagues, state and federal officials, and fire historians and researchers, New York Times Phoenix Bureau Chief Fernanda Santos has written a riveting, pulse-pounding narrative of an unthinkable disaster, a remarkable group of men and the raging wildfires that threaten our country’s treasured wild lands.
The Fire Line is the winner of the 2017 Spur Award for Best First Nonfiction Book, and Spur Award Finalist for Best Western Contemporary Nonfiction.