Get the complete story of the Cerro Grande Fire

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By Special to the Monitor

Tom Ribe will sign “Inferno by Committee: a History of the Cerro Grande Fire, America’s Worst Prescribed Fire Disaster” from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Otowi Station.


A decade has passed since the Cerro Grande Fire ushered into America’s psyche the concept of megafires.

“Inferno by Committee” is written from the perspective of a professional fire manager.

In the tradition of Norman Maclean’s “Young Men and Fire” and Timothy Egan’s “Big Burn,” the book is the complete story of the Cerro Grande Fire, its historic origins, its start as a prescribed fire project, the battle against a rapidly escalating inferno, the investigations and the lessons learned from one of the most costly wildfires in U.S. history.

“Inferno by Committee” also details the history of land management before the fire, agency interactions and the management of prescribed fires. The story that emerges is a compelling page-turner, both for the general reader and for fire professionals.

Tom Ribe, a long-time advocate of public land and national parks, has his masters’ in environmental studies from the University of Oregon and has worked in interpretation for the National Park Service at Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks and for Bandelier National Monument.

He is executive director of Caldera Action, advocating for fire management  for the Valles Caldera National Preserve, and works on various issues related to national parks and global environmental health. He lives in Santa Fe.