How to watch Jaime Lowe discuss ‘Breathing Fire’ at the L.A. Times Book Club

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California has always had a fire problem; now that problem is a constant crisis.

Among California’s solutions is a nearly invisible workforce of inmate firefighters. Depending on the year, inmates make up as much as 30% of California’s wildland fire crews, says author Jaime Lowe.

In her new book, “Breathing Fire,” Lowe takes readers to the front lines of California’s wildfires through the experiences of the women inmates who volunteer for intense fire training and risk their lives to save a state in peril.

Lowe joined the L.A. Times Book Club Sept. 28 for a conversation with Times columnist Erika D. Smith. You can watch the live-streaming event on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Journalist and author Jaime Lowe(right) joined book club readers Sept. 28th, 2021
Journalist and author Jaime Lowe joined book club readers Sept. 28th, 2021 to discuss her book “Breathing Fire: Female Inmate Firefighters on the Front Lines of California’s Wildfires” with Times columnist Erika D. Smith.
(Los Angeles Times)

Lowe says the book was inspired by a 2016 Times article about Shawna Lynn Jones, a 22-year-old inmate who was struck in the head by a falling boulder while working the fire lines in Malibu. Jones, serving a three-year sentence for violating probation after a drug offense, died just six weeks before her release date.

Women in fire suits and helmets walk along a trail with the ocean in the background
Women inmate firefighters from Camp 13 help extinguish a Malibu fire.
(Ted Soqui / Corbis via Getty Images)

For the next five years, Lowe set out to document the lives of the women of the state’s Conservation Camp program: their stories, their training and the inequities of a system that paid Shawna Jones just $2.56 a day or $1 an hour for working the fire lines.

“Breathing Fire” is the September selection of the L.A. Times Book Club. In October the paper’s community book club will be reading “The Boys” by Ron and Clint Howard, who join book club readers on Oct. 15 at L.A. Live’s Rooftop Terrace. Get tickets.

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