In Los Angeles's Pinch Canyon at 3:15 P.M., Danna Press, 15, watches the wildfires consuming the area on television, wishing they'd come her way and liberate her from homework. An hour later, her wishes have been drastically altered: Her leg is broken by a panicky horse and she can't escape the stable when it bursts into flame. Her brother finds her and carries her to safety as the fires leapfrog the steep, narrow roads of the neighborhood. In a tense, minute-by-minute account of the blaze, Cooney (Both Sides of Time, p. 854, etc.) takes readers into the lives of various residents of the canyon as they flee the fire. Cooperation is a new experience for most of them, who are depicted as vapid, self-centered, overprivileged youth (their equally self-centered parents are busy away from home). In fact, only a few characters inspire much sympathy (a Central American maid, an adopted Romanian child, and an American teenager, Beau, who loses his life trying to reconcile an old family sorrow), but most readers will be swept along to the finish by the sure plotting and sheer suspense.