Fire Monks, A Story of Fire, Bravery and Abandonment

When fire swept down canyon and into the grounds of their monastery a group of five Buddhist Monks were waiting. None of them had direct fire ground experience but what they possessed was a lifetime of physical and mental training in their discipline that helped prepare them for what they faced.

Author Colleen Morton Busch spent two years preparing this comprehensive documentation of their story. She accurately describes the events leading to the five being left alone to save their monastery through personal interviews and U.S. Forest Service fire reports. In addition Colleen utilized the Freedom Of Information Act to secure notes by fire commanders.

The story of Tassajara Zen Center and the plight of the monks within during the Basin Complex Fire in 2008 was a story I personally followed and wrote about here in real time as events unfolded. I made my opinions known in 2008 and those opinions are reflected in ‘Fire Monks’.

I recommend Fire Monks because it is a story like no other. When else have you read a story where resident guardians of an historic cultural learning center were abandoned to fend for themselves as fire commanders withheld the aid of 16 available helicopters, numerous fixed wing aircraft, dozens of structure protection fire engines, dozens of fire crews and hundreds of firefighters?

Buy Fire Monks and read the story.

Fire Monks by Colleen Morton Busch

Firefighter Blog archive of the Basin Fire. (54 posts)

Firefighter Blog archive Tassajara tagged posts. (7 posts)


  • Thunderhawk45 says:

    …………. it’s to bad the “monks” didn’t understand the role the USFS played in saving their comrades!

    • Anonymous says:

      Their comrades? You mean the evacuees? The road appeared safe when the last group left. If you read the book you understand how absolutely they were abandoned. This was a travesty and a defining moment in USFS history.

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