An action-packed, on-the-ground memoir of the Fort McMurray wildfire and the courage, resilience, and sacrifice of the firefighters who saved the city.
In May 2016, what began as a remote forest fire quickly became a nightmare for the ninety thousand residents of Fort McMurray. A perfect combination of weather, geography and circumstance created a raging wildfire that devoured everything in its path. Winds drove the flames towards the town, forcing the entire population to evacuate. As the fire swept through neighbourhoods, it fell to the men and women of the fire department to protect the city.
Born and raised in Fort McMurray, Damian Asher was a fifteen-year veteran and captain in the city’s fire department. Day after day, Damian and his crew remained on the front lines of the burning city. As embers rained down around them, they barely slept, pushing their minds and bodies to the brink as they struggled to contain the fire. As he led his crew through the smoke and the flames, Damian had little time to worry about whether the house he had built for his family was still standing. With media unable to get into the locked-down city, the world watched in hope and fear, wondering what was happening on the fiery streets.
Finally, after weeks of battling the wildfire, the firefighters managed to regain control. When the smoke cleared, much of the city had been destroyed. Would things ever be the same? How would the city reunite? What would it take to rebuild life in Fort McMurray?
About the authors
Damian Asher is a captain in the Fort McMurray Fire Department. A fifteen-year veteran, Damian is charged with protecting not only the city but also the lives of the men and women around him. In his spare time, Damian works as a contractor, building homes by hand. He lives in Fort McMurray with his wife and two children.
Omar Mouallem is an author, filmmaker, and educator. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, WIRED, and The New Yorker, and his latest book, Praying to the West, was named one of The Globe and Mail’s 100 best books of 2021 and nominated for two Alberta Literary Awards in the categories of Memoir and Nonfiction. His short documentary The Last Baron, about the unlikely link between a Canadian fast-food institution and the Lebanese civil war, is currently being expanded into a feature film to be released later this year. Omar is also the “fake dean” of Pandemic University, a virtual school he founded in support of writers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, with his family.
"Gutsy and raw."
Winnipeg Free Press
“Inside the Inferno is as raw, honest, and powerful as it gets. Damian and his crew never gave up, no matter what was asked of them. An incredible true story that shows the courage and grit it takes to serve as a firefighter.”
Jody Mitic, bestselling author of Unflinching
"[Inside the Inferno] reads like a disaster thriller made even more dramatic by being real."