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A Fire Story

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,214 ratings  ·  276 reviews
Early in the morning on Monday, October 9, 2017, wildfires burned through Northern California, resulting in 44 fatalities. In addition, 6,200 homes and 8,900 structures and were destroyed. Author Brian Fies’s firsthand account of this tragic event is an honest, unflinching depiction of his personal experiences, including losing his house and every possession he and his wif ...more
Hardcover, 154 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Harry N. Abrams
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 ·  1,214 ratings  ·  276 reviews

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May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Fire Story by Brian Fies is a 2019 Harry N. Abrams publication.

This graphic novel depicts Brian Fies’ personal experiences when he lost his home during the 2017 Northern California wildfires.

His Webcomic and subsequent graphic novel has been a cathartic journey as he chronicles the various emotions he and his family felt, in the process of moving forward after such an incredibly difficult loss. He also adds others personal stories into the novel, adding even more poignancy to the devastation
David Schaafsma
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa, California in mid-October 2017 burned more than 36,000 acres and destroyed more than 5,000 structures and the Fies family home was one of them.

Brian Fies is a science writer and cartoonist whose works Mom’s Cancer (2005) and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow (2009) I don’t much love, though his first one won a lot of awards. The issue: I’m not a fan of his art, kind of flat and stodgy and cartoony all at once, with rare backgrounds. I had pretty low expecta
In the wee hours of the morning on October 9, 2017, the electricity in the home of Brian and Karen Fies went out. Karen Fies snapped awake, smelled smoke, and walked to the bedroom window. There she saw smoke blowing sideways "like fog," and the sky glowing orange. Neither she nor her husband had received alerts telling them to evacuate, but they didn't need any to know they needed to get out as fast as possible. They grabbed a few cherished items but not all; they assumed they were leaving only ...more
I won this on Fantasy Literature. com! A very special Thank you to the author Brian Fies!

I don't read a lot of Graphic Novels, A Fire Story is I believe the 4th Graphic Novel I've read. The first 3 were the March series which is a non fiction Graphic Novel about the life of civil rights icon and U.S. Congressman John Lewis. I haven't read a fiction Graphic Novel yet but at some point I hope too.

I hadn't planned on reading A Fire Story just yet but last week I fell into a reading slump. I didn't
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss, 2019
Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and hopeful. A narrative tale about the 2017 Northern California wildfires told by an artist who lost his home in the fire. Fies really draws you in with his retelling of what happened to his house and the struggle to find a new place to live. I think that's one of the things those of us who have never lived through this kind of tragedy forget. This will affect them for years to come. They have to find an immediate place to live and even simple things such as clothe ...more
The author of this book lost his home in the California wildfire of 2017. This graphic memoir tells that story. The artwork was incredible. The story felt personal detailing all the trauma of losing one’s possessions. Having experienced two hurricanes, one of which was extremely devastating, I could relate to much of that.

Lisa Wolf
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. If you're looking for a powerful graphic novel to read, this is the one.

The 2017 fires in Northern California were absolutely devastating. I live in San Francisco, and while the fires themselves never came close to our city, the air was full of smoke for weeks -- schools ending up closing, people were warned to stay inside and to wear masks while outside, and everyone had headaches and coughs from the lousy air quality. But of course, this is nothing compared to the suffering of those who p
I live in earthquake and fire country. I have lived through three major earthquakes. I have not, as yet, had to live through a fire storm.

I thought, because i read Brian's original post, that he made during the firestorms of Santa Rosa, in 2017, that I would have read all he had to say. I wanted to read this full book, to see if there was more. I started reading it, when I should have been working, and could not put it down.

It is raw, it is in the moment, it is very moving.

This is a view of esca
Elizabeth Tabler
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I inhaled my neighbors' lives"

I have lived through a few things. I have been robbed, my house has caught fire (twice), and I very nearly floated my car in a flash flood. I had to drive on the wrong side of the road and got swept sideways. I have not yet, thankfully, lived through a firestorm and the aftermath. Brian Fies has, however. A Fire Story is a memoir of the experience, pain, fear, regret, and most importantly...hope. His family lost everything. Everything...from pencil to pillar when t
Stewart Tame
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brian Fies lost his home in the California wildfires of 2017. This graphic novel is the story of that night, as well as the months that followed. What do you do when, not just your house, but your entire neighborhood burns to the ground? How do you begin the process of rebuilding? By telling his story, as well as those of others affected by the fires, Fies gives us a glimpse of people coping with massive tragedy, and of the resilience of the human spirit.

Actually, that oversimplifies the emotio
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am too close to the incidents of this book to be unbiased about it. The 2017 California fires didn't take my home, but came within less than 10 miles or so of us. I had a friend who had been evacuated staying on my couch, and a go-bag packed on my floor for a week. I had met the author, Brian Fies, before the fires and I read his original comic online the day he posted it. If you want to know more about this natural disaster, I highly recommend this book. It's clear, direct, and honest. There ...more
Diane Hernandez
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Heartfelt memoir about losing your home in the worst wildfire in decades. A Fire Story is sad but ultimately uplifting.

Multiple fires merged into a Northern California firestorm of epic proportions. The resulting burn area was the size of 15 Manhattans. Entire neighborhoods burned to the ground overnight. Warnings were mishandled so many survivors had virtually no time to take any belongings. Others didn’t escape in time.

The author, a graphic memoirist, uses his craft to document, in real time,
Rod Brown
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A straightforward, effective reminder that the destructive power of the natural disasters we see on our screens echoes far beyond the physical damage to structures and property. Even for those like Brian Fies who escape with their lives and health, the aftermath can be a slow and arduous process of recovery and rebuilding.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very well-researched, approachable, yet emotional account of the Oct 2017 California wildfires that took thousands of peoples' homes and livelihoods, as well as the lives of 44 individuals. Fies gives an account of both his family's loss of their home, and how that affected them, as well as stories of neighbors and friends who lost their homes. Fies' storytelling is empathetic and well-researched, making it easy for the reader to step into the shoes of fire victims and get a better und ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
On October 9, 2017 Brian Fies and his wife fled their house after wildfires ripped through their Northern California neighborhood. The fire consumed 8,900 buildings, including 6,200 homes, and killed 44 people through eight counties. The Fies fled with a few belongings and their dog and cat figuring they'll return. To his shock, the fire destroyed their home losing everything. The graphic book chronicles their loss and the steps taken to rebuild their lives. What does it feel like to have lost n ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A heartbreaking, but also hopeful, memoir of losing all of your physical possessions and having to start over from literally nothing. Based on a short webcomic Fies did in the days immediately following the loss of his home in the wildfires that devastated Northern California in 2017 and interspersed with the stories of other victims, A Fire Story is a snapshot of a time, a place, a community but it is also a universal story of human fear, frustration and fortitude in the face of disaster.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Santa Rosa has a special place in my heart, because I spent 3-4 years in that area growing up. So reading about the 2017 fire was a little more interesting and personal. I loved the format of this book- it's a graphic novel with a good amount of text, so you still get the satisfaction of reading a book, but you also get pictures. I hope I can make something like it someday. :) Fies did a great job going into detail about what it's like to lose your home and belongings, how it feels and what it t ...more
Bryony Nelson
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A Fire Story was a heartbreaking and touching read complete with real photographs from the damage and aftermath, as well as accounts of the fire and people's lives afterwards from the authors neighbours and friends. The illustrations were fantastic and the narrative was really well done and felt like it didn't leave any details out. I thought this was very well done and despite the dreadful circumstances, I enjoyed reading this.
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphics
Reflective. While my experience with a disaster was not as devastating as this story, it still was very hard. So many words in this book hit home for me. So many things I will never see again too.
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
The fires in California dominated the news for such a long time, but in such a distant way. And this book puts it front and center in the way that reading New York Times accounts on the East Coast can never do. Most of my graphic novel reading tends to be fiction but this was a real story of a real person, a cartoonist and an artist who got directly affected by the fires, who got rendered homeless by the fires. And I must say based on this book, graphic memoirs are really enjoyable. It wasn’t an ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it

“Monday night, a blaze that began near Calistoga caught 60 mph easterlies. A flaming front swept down the creek and broke over the hills like a napalm tsunami, devouring a football field of land every three seconds.”

This is some nice, clean art work, with some really clever touches tucked in here and there. The colouring is fresh, immediate and lively, reminding me of the flavours you would find in a packet of Starburst. The text is sharp, powerful and is laden with some lovely description.

Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First off, thank you to Abrams Books for my ARC of this wonderful book.

This was my first time reading a graphic novel. While I did not get the full color experience of the final print, I still felt the power of the words and drawings throughout my uncorrected proof.

I was deeply touched by this profound look at the effect of the wildfires and the impact of loss of Brian Fies and his family. I feel that the author did an excellent job demonstrating the chaos, confusion, and overwhelming grief of t
Hayley Stone
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
A moving depiction of the Tubbs Fire that devastated parts of Northern California, particularly the city of Santa Rosa. Although I've not lived in Santa Rosa for more than a decade, having spent much of my childhood there, I still tend to think of it as my hometown. I remember reading about the wildfire as it was happening, unable to process how fast the fire was moving, and how many people it was leaving homeless in its wake.

With that said, this webcomic-turned-graphic novel does a fine job of
This was so moving and so incredibly gripping. Fies' tells of his experience during one of the California wildfires of 2017: a fire that obliterated his home. It's emotional and personal, but it also incorporates general fire information and other people's stories - so it has journalistic aspects. If you enjoy graphic memoirs, you should definitely give this one a go.
Melanie Ullrich
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Being in my natural disaster-free, Midwestern bubble, I had no concept of how urgent and upending living amongst wildfires could be. This graphic novel popped that bubble with the authors real life experience of losing his home in a single hellish hour. I laughed more than I expected from a book about loss. The author perfectly showed the absurdity of what it takes to get through a tragedy.
Matthew Noe
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolute must have for any comics collection
Matt (TeamRedmon)
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful graphic novel about the loss experienced after a wildfire and the hope that comes with putting one's life back together.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
It tells the story of the heartbreaking account of the fires in Northern California in 2917. This was my second graphic novel and I am sort of hooked.
Rachel Pollock
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I joined a round robin book group with a graphic novel theme--we all choose a book, read it, write marginalia, then mail it to the next person in the group. This happens every month for four months and you eventually get your own book back with everybody's comments in it. So, this is the first book I've gotten from one of the other members (mine was Here, which i read last month). I haven't read many graphic novels but I thought they might be easier to read with my difficulty concentrating due t ...more
Laura U
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
*I was provided with a copy of this book by Edelweiss. Thank you very much!*

This is the real story of a wildfire tragedy that burned the author's house and thousands of others'. It presents the events before the fire and the consequences.
"If you're ever told to evacuate, assume it's real and you'll never see your house again."
Brian and Karen lived a happy life until a flaming front that was capable of "devouring a football field of land every three seconds" came their way. Their story is a touc
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Play Book Tag: A Fire Story - Brian Fies (4 stars) 1 5 Apr 26, 2020 10:04AM  

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Brian Fies is a science writer, illustrator, and cartoonist whose widely acclaimed first graphic novel, Mom's Cancer, won the 2005 Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic (the first web comic to win the award and inaugurate this new category), the Lulu Blooker Prize for Best Comic, the Harvey Award for Best New Talent, and the German Youth Literature Prize, among other awards and recognition. He lives ...more

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