Waking Up to Wildfires poster art

Waking Up to Wildfires

Watch on PBS here


"Waking Up to Wildfires" wins Emmy nomination!

In "Waking Up to Wildfires," filmmaker Paige Bierma tells the stories of people most affected by the 2017 North Bay wildfires. We hear from survivors, firefighters, public health officials, community groups—and the scientists who are trying to make sense of it all as people struggle to recover and new fires erupt.

In 2020, our 30-minute, PBS version of "Waking Up to Wildfires" received an Emmy nomination in the health, science and environment category. Read the Emmy press release.

  • PBS aired a 30-minute version of the film on October 11 and 13, 2019 to commemorate the 2-year anniversary of the 2017 North Bay wildfires, and syndicated it nationally through 2021. ​​​​​​
  • We released the feature-length version of Waking Up to Wildfires September 20, 2019 on our YouTube channel as part of the global #ClimateStrike.



Waking Up to Wildfires Sonoma Poster


What people are saying about "Waking Up to Wildfires"

On November 4, 2018, EHSC held a special, sold out screening event for survivors and community members at the historic Sebastiani Theatre in Sonoma, California. After the screening, we asked the audience what they thought about the film. 

What's inspiring about the film


"The strong sense of community."

"The personal stories and grassroots efforts."

"The stories of the heartache, loss, resilience and human spirit. I cried the entire time."

"We had to evacuate and lost a home in Coffey Park. The movie was incredible. It was a powerful, wonderful representation."

"The honesty of the victims about the emotional aftermath."

"The risks taken by first responders and the ability of the filmmaker to evoke raw emotion from the people she interviewed."

"The vividly documented destruction caused by fire and the resulting post-traumatic stress."

"The strength, compassion and emotional toll on first responders."

"Hearing Jason's story and how he was affected by what happened to Armando. Vulnerability is always powerful, especially from the community of firefighters and first responders."

What's worrying about wildfires


"Knowing the ongoing pain and suffering continues."

"The psychology of disasters and effects on everyone, people and their pets."

"The remaining and mounting danger of a repeat event."

"The lack of housing that exists over 1 year later."

"The injustice the Spanish-speaking community experiences every day."

"That our country, state, county and people are still not talking about climate change seriously. We must act now!"

What you can do

We're now seeing large, rapidly spreading wildfires in urban areas each year, which scientists believe could have an impact on the health of people differently than “natural” wildfires that burn trees, grass and other plants. The air pollution from burned cars, homes and other structures pose significant health risks for our state and the nation—but you can be part of the solution.

Since 2017, the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center has been researching how wildfires are affecting the health of people exposed to the air pollution and stress that come with them. By participating in one of our studies, you can help local communities better prepare for wildfires in the future. Find out more and join in our wildfire research.

The UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) produced "Waking Up to Wildfires" with a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to help shed light on the plight of communities after these types of disasters.


Watch on PBS here