The Arsonist Chloe Hooper

We all heard a noise start, and it was getting louder. It was like a jet engine. I'd never heard a noise like it, and then the penny dropped -- it was the fire coming.

Testimony of a CFA volounteer

In the terminology of those who track them, a fire has a head, a tongue, fingers, a rear and a tail. So Chloe Hooper notes in The Arsonist, her lyrical and arresting account of the aftermath of Black Saturday. The scientists recreating a fire's path will, without meaning to, describe a "beast", she writes. "This monster, which grew a tongue, a head, flanks and claw-like fingers, and stretched for mile after mile, taking whatever it wanted."