Woodland Park resident Nigel Thompson — an author, retired computer programmer, father and world traveler — recently published his ninth book on Amazon.
His book, “Fire Survivor: A Personal Story of the Black Forest Fire,” is a detailed account of his personal experiences of loss and recovery during the devastating Black Forest Fire of 2013, in which he, as well as many others, lost his family home, possessions and pets. In the opening chapters of his book, Thompson recounts staring at a wall of smoke approaching his property and being at a loss for what to take or what to do.
“I still didn’t think anything was going to happen, I thought they would put it out in a couple of hours,” he said of his thoughts while he was in his home before it burned down.
Thompson had been taking notes about the fire and how it affected him and his family for years, but the recent fires in California and the nudging of a friend inspired him to finish his book and share his experiences with people who may need to read about them.
In the weeks immediately following the fire, Thompson became a sort of unofficial spokesperson, giving multiple interviews about the fires and his experiences.
“The only people I had to talk to were the TV people,” he said, adding that his family was in Oregon during the fires in preparation for one of his children’s graduation, and his employers gave him time off. “They were interviewing me like twice a day at one point because I was there and I happened to show up first thing in the morning the day after the fire because I showed up to find out what was going on.”
All of his clothes were destroyed in the fire, so he was stuck rotating between two suits he had purchased from Men’s Warehouse in the weeks that followed the fire and living out of hotels before he and his family were able to find new accommodations, rebuild their homes and replace their belongings.
In the aftermath of the fire, he and his family went through many transitions. Thompson found himself in a rebuilt house that seemed too big and working a job he was ready to leave. He moved to a much smaller house in Woodland Park and is now retired, living a life of minimalism, creativity and world travel.
Thompson now keeps digital copies of everything on the cloud and knows exactly what he would have to take in the event of a fire.
“For people who have animals, you have to have some kind of plan,” he said, discussing what’s important to save in a fire, adding that most people are unprepared for such a tragedy.
Nigel looks back on the tragedy pragmatically. When he decided to finish his book, he downloaded his entire Facebook history to find a detailed and emotional account of the fire.
“It was so awful to go back and revisit it,” he said of making the decision to go over his notes and Facebook history.
Thompson began writing books for fun years before writing “Fire Survivor.” His other works include science fiction, books about programming, travels, and a personal memoir of 60 stories celebrating his 60th birthday.
“I would get up at 5, go to Starbucks, write for an hour and then go to work,” he said of his longstanding morning writing practice at his local Starbucks.
Thompson publishes his books on Amazon as Kindle books and sells them for $0.99, which is the lowest price they can be sold for, making them available for free when he can.
“If anybody got any benefit out of it at all, that would be great,” Thompson said of his new book. “If there was some way that I could make the book completely free, I’d do it.”
Thompson is in the process of planning his next trip around the world, and is close to completing his bucket list.