Max Thieriot Gets Candid About The Real Fire That Inspired Him To Create Fire Country

Max Thieriot as Bode talking with his captain on Fire Country.
(Image credit: CBS)

Max Thieriot, known for his work on SEAL Team and Bates Motel, is now working on a show that is extremely close to him. The actor is not only the star of one of the latest CBS dramas on the 2022 TV schedule, Fire Country, but he’s also the creator of the show as well as a writer and producer. The reason he’s so close to the story is that it’s based on the town he grew up, the firefighters who help protect the community and put out fires and wildfires in Northern California, one of which inspired him to create the show.

In a recent interview with the Petaluma Argus-Courier, Thieriot recalled a story of a wildfire in 2017, and how that inspired his new show. On October 9, 2017, a wildfire started in Sonoma County, the actor was called by his family to make his way up north from Los Angeles to help with the fire. He said: 

My mom and my sister and my brother live in Occidental, and my mom was calling me in the middle of the night to hop on a truck and come up from LA and help load up horse trailers and move animals and livestock and go around the county and pick up animals.

The Tubbs and Nuns Fires were in the vicinity of the actor's hometown of Occidental. According to The Press Democrat, the Tubbs fire took 40 lives and over 6,000 homes and affected Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. The Nuns fire was the firestorm in the North Bay that raged on for days, it took nearly a month for firefighters to contain it. 

Thieriot recalled what it was like when he got back to Occidental, saying: 

It was chaos. It was so surreal and unbelievable that this fire was spreading where it was. People just couldn’t imagine this ever happening. And after it was all over, I was driving around, and it was just hard to digest … all over Mark West, and then to drive past and see (Cardinal) Newman (High School) and Coffey Park. My gosh, the devastation.

One thing we’ve always known about Fire Country is that Thieriot was bringing personal experience into the show. This can be seen in how the firefighters handle the wildfires and those affected by them in each episode. According to the showrunner, Tia Napolitano, Thieriot has helped keep the stories the show tells authentic. She said: 

He has so many small-town stories, so many Northern California stories, so many firefighting stories. We’re not just inventing the authenticity he brings to the table, whether it’s wardrobe or music. We’re really transporting the audience to a small town in Northern California.

Thieriot also said he reached out to firefighters he knows in Sonoma County, and he said the “consensus” is that they are “all very excited” about the show. 

The other piece to the show that’s based on real life is a program for inmates who opt to go to fire camp to help their transition from prison back into society. A few of the people in the Fire Country cast, including Thieriot, play characters who are part of this program.  Napolitano explained that the program is super important, and she said the show is “committed to exploring the reality” of it. 

While Fire Country has only been out for three weeks, it has already been picked up for a second season. To tune into this show that is inspired by the lead actor’s own life, and real events in Northern California, you can check out Fire Country every Friday at 9 p.m. ET on CBS or with a Paramount+ subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is a Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She spent many years working in local journalism across the country writing about art, news and sports. One of her favorite films is When Harry Met Sally and she walks around constantly quoting Ted Lasso.