Gunflint Burning by Cary Griffith

An intimate look at the details and the devastation behind the 2007 wild fire in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota that became one of the most destructive fires in Minnesota history. Passionate, compelling, and a book that is truly hard to put down.

~Sheila

Gunflint Burning is the account of the events of the Ham Lake Fire in May of 2007. What started out as a camp fire made by a well seasoned explorer of the Boundary Waters, turned out to become a fire that would burn for nearly two weeks, engulfing 75,000 acres of forest and 144 buildings.

This book by Author Cary Griffith takes you through the events of not only the devastation of the fire, but the people of the Boundary Waters, the Firemen and authorities who fought the fire, as well as the man behind the match.

Let me start here. I am a Minnesotan and LOVE the Gunflint area as well as the Boundary Waters. I live about 5 hours away. Its amazing to believe that there are still places in this world that I can drive to and not have cell phone reception. It is a freeing feeling.

In 2013, friends of mine as well as a couple of their friends decided that they wanted to take a 5 day canoe trip through the Boundary Waters. I was asked if I would like to go along, and always up for an adventure that was a definite YES. We loaded up with all of our food, clothes and gear and ventured out. I had been to the Boundary Waters before but not like this. Five girls out adventuring each day, carrying our canoes through trails and grass and landing where we landed each night. It was an experience of a life time and one I will always cherish.

This trip was six years after the devastating fire and you could still see the signs of it where there was a lot of new growth, but many trees were not there. While I knew of the fire, I never dug into what had happened until years later when I would meet Author Cary Griffith through our local event, Wine and Words. When Cary signed on to speak about his new book I was fascinated. I love a good non fiction, and one in my home state and as interesting as the details of this fire peaked my interest. When Cary spoke at the event that I knew I needed to read this book as as soon as possible.

Cary described in vivid detail how he came to write the book and the investigation behind it. Honestly out of our five authors present at this event in 2018, it was Cary Griffith that left me with the biggest take away.

The book is broke into chapters and dates – starting with May 3rd, 2007 with Steve Posniak on the day he started his annual camping trip into the Boundary Waters. This would be his twenty seventh trip, and unknown at this time, would be his final trip.

I actually read this book in late fall of 2018 after the August Author Event with Cary. I only noticed in the last couple of days that I had never reviewed it for no reason other than I tend to get busy and forget to review what I have read… always amazing me at the end of the year when I see my book count on Goodreads and know I have read a heck of a lot more than that, but can not always recall what is missing. As I figure that out – I will be reviewing these missing books.

I recommend Gunflint Burning to anyone enjoys a well written true story. You do not need to be from Minnesota or have experienced the Boundary Waters to appreciate the enormous impact of this historical event.


If you ever do have the opportunity to come this way, I highly recommend experiencing the Gunflint Trail as well as the Boundary Waters. Both are rich with history and adventure.

6 thoughts on “Gunflint Burning by Cary Griffith

  1. Sheila! Thanks so much for this review of Gunflint Burning. I really appreciate your comments, not just about my book but about so many other things you do. As I think I mentioned, I loved your First Book post! Well done. I’m looking forward to reading your blog posts over the coming year. Meanwhile, stay safe, healthy and I wish you abundant happiness in 2021. We’ll be in touch.-Cary

    1. Hi Cary! Awe, thank you! It’s crazy I was looking at my Goodreads stats and thought clearly, I am not remembering to post all my reviews here. I happened to come across your book on my shelves and was curious about what I had written and was surprised to see I had not reviewed it here. It was my pleasure to do so now. Just talking about it makes me want to read it again!
      Talk soon and keep writing 🙂

  2. This sounds great! I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but this kind of narrative nonfiction intrigues me on occasion! I haven’t started writing real reviews for my blog again yet, much less reviewing everything I read, so I think you’re amazing for reviewing as much as you do!

  3. Hi Shelia, Do you have any idea if this book is still in print, not available down here in NZ, even my Library doesn’t have it although they do have another of this authors books, Many thanks.

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