New book about Alabaugh Fire

Alabaugh fire
Alabaugh Fire, July 7, 2007, west of Hot Springs, SD. The photo was taken about 1 hour after the fire was reported. Photo: Bill Gabbert

Few people know (until now) that the photo in the masthead at the top of every page on Wildfire Today was taken by this writer at the 2007 Alabaugh Fire near Hot Springs, South Dakota. The fire burned 10,324 acres, destroyed 33 homes, killed one resident, and forced two firefighters to take refuge in one fire shelter.

Cascade of Flames Book

In one of the 33 homes lived Mary Goulet who has just released a book she wrote about the fire called Cascade of Flames. The “Cascade” part of the name comes from the nearest paved road, Cascade Road which runs south out of Hot Springs (map).

During the first couple of years after the fire, it gained some attention when it was featured in the annual wildland fire refresher before the 2008 fire season. It was also the topic of a Staff Ride.

There were several lessons to be learned from the fire and the initial attack incident Commander, Al Stover, was very willing to answer questions and to tell his story in the video produced for the refresher course. Al’s house was in the fire area and he no doubt had a lot on his mind during the first few hours as the fire raced through his neighborhood.

At the time of the fire Al worked for South Dakota’s Wildland Fire Suppression Division, but currently works for the National Park Service’s Northern Great Plains Fire Management area.

More information:

  • Cascade of Flames is available at the two book stores in Hot Springs, Black Hills Books, and The Wild Burro, as well as at Amazon. (UPDATE 12/27/2010: I talked with the book’s author, and she said she will ensure that the Borders bookstore in Rapid City has copies of the book. Luckily, a friend gave me a copy for Christmas!)
  • The Hot Springs Star has an article about a book signing, and has a photo of Al Stover and Mary Goulet.
  • Wildfire Today articles that mentioned the Alabaugh Fire.
Alabaugh Fire
Alabaugh Fire, July 7, 2007. Photo: Bill Gabbert

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.