Legendary Plans The Esperanza Fire

Legendary Pictures has plans to adapt John Maclean’s non-fiction book The Esperanza Fire into a feature film, Variety reports. Based on the true story of Raymond Oyler, the man charged with a devastating act arson, the book is officially described as follows:

With a keen eye and ear for detail and raw emotion, Maclean dissects the tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths of five firefighters in 2006 after a wind-driven fire burned over their position on a ridge amidst a sea of chaparral and a few trees. Whether or not you’ve ever been on the front line of a wildfire, this book is a gut-wrenching, compelling narrative. It reads like a taut murder mystery, a whodunit novel you can’t put down, with a cast of fascinating characters that includes shady suspects, a dogged detective, DNA evidence, a divided jury, and the victims’ grieving family, friends, and colleagues.

The fire, started by an arsonist on October 26, 2006, burned about 42,000 acres and destroyed 34 houses. The arsonist was caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Maclean, a seasoned journalist with storytelling in his blood, spent six years piecing together the story of the crime. As for the deaths, he also answers the question, “Why?” as well it can be answered — Why did the crew of Engine 57 hold its position on that hilltop, with a fire driven by Santa Ana winds below them? And was anyone, other than Raymond Lee Oyler, the arsonist, ultimately responsible for the deaths?

Alex Hedlund is attached to oversee development on the film version.

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