Sixteen-year-old Duncan, a fire watcher in the West Virginia department of forestry, is obliged to fight more than flames during his tour of duty. While at his post, he is forcibly compelled to play host to escaped convict, Vickers. With Vickers is a small girl who has become a voluntary hostage to the desperate but somewhat benign criminal. Not only must Duncan be alerted to possible fires started by accident, he must also help fight a fire started by Vickers in order to facilitate his escape. Despite the difficulties imposed on Duncan by the convict, he is drawn to him and looks forward to a time when Vickers, having paid his legal debt, must return to a less unstable existence. The somewhat off-beat presentation of a desperado and the details given regarding life in the forest service should be of interest to boys partial to outdoor adventures.