Poynter takes a human-interest approach to firefighting--artificially at first (""Andy gritted his teeth,"" but forest ranger Andy is just an introductory device), but more successfully in action scenes. In the first of these, she takes readers through the Great Idaho Fire of 1910 with Big Ed Pulaski, who later invented the firefighting tool that bears his name. To an extent the approach determines the content: Poynter notes that helicopters have cut the use of parachuting ""smoke jumpers,"" but takes us through a smoke jumper's rigorous training program, including a hypothetical recruit's first jump. Similarly we go through on-the-spot decision-making with an officer on duty during a blaze. Through such scenarios, we are filled in on the behavior of fires, the basic battle plan used in fighting them, and the human and other elements that contribute to fatalities. Later chapters, also in semi-narrative form, deal with the dangerous fires set by arsonists or careless campers, the deliberate ones set as forest-management strategies, and the feelings of the professionals and volunteers who fight fires. Readers looking for succinct homework fodder or an understanding of modern forest fire policy should stick to Laurence Pringle's Natural Fire (1979). Those who respond to a ""you are there"" format can get into this.