Waking Up to Wildfires

Waking Up to Wildfires poster art


In Waking Up to Wildfires, Emmy-winning filmmaker Paige Bierma uses her camera to tell 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 while people struggle to recover and new fires erupt.

The Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) at UC Davis produced Waking Up to Wildfires with a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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



“The strong sense of community."

“The personal stories and grassroots scientific 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. A powerful, wonderful representation.”

“The honesty of victims about the emotional aftermath.”

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

“The vividly documented destruction caused by fire and resulting post-traumatic stress.”

“The strength, compassion and emotional toll on the 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.”


“Knowing the ongoing pain and suffering continues.”

“The remaining and mounting danger of a repeat event.”

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

“The lack of housing that still exists over a 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!”

Waking Up to Wildfires film poster art
Original film poster art by Chris Wilkinson. Find him on Instagram @stuffbycw.