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On December 20, 1977, at 7:06 AM, gale winds blow down a power line into a deep canyon, on the southern portion of a United States Air Force Strategic Air Command installation on the Central Coast of California. Santa Ana winds, sometimes in excess of a 100 miles per hour, take a small resulting spark, ignite it and transform it into a conflagration. Within a few hours, the fire will take the lives of the Base Commander and two Fire Chiefs. The loss of senior management results in irreparable harm; those on the front-lines of the fire now have to fend for themselves. This fire eventually causes sixty-five injuries, major infrastructure damage to the military installation, the burning of almost 10,000 acres of wildland and a fourth fatality, several weeks later to a dozer operator.

 

The next morning, the fire is drenched by rain from an incoming storm front. Almost as quickly as the rains leave the installation, the fire is all but forgotten. The reasons are complex. Whether it was an unwillingness to talk about it by the front-line personnel, or a military tired by its failures of the Vietnam War, or an American public disinterested in its military, those who served on the front-lines of this horrific fire were not ever recognized for facing the insurmountable fire. FireStorm ’77 attempts to resolve this wrong. 

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