Newfoundland author Russell Wangersky has won a $40,000 prize for a book chronicling his time as a volunteer firefighter.

Four nominees were shortlisted for the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. Wangersky's book is called "Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself" and was released by Thomas Allen Publishers.

Over two decades ago, when he was a university student, Wangersky signed up to fight fires with the volunteer department in Wolfville, a small community northwest of Halifax, his hometown.

During his time there, Wangersky - now the editor of The Telegram in St. John's, N.L. - would encounter house fires and horrific car crashes causing nightmares that haunted him for years.

The contenders for the B.C. prize were chosen from a field of 163 nominated titles.

Eligible books had to be authored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and published between Nov. 1, 2007 and Oct. 31, 2008.

Jurors include Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank; journalist, author and commentator Stevie Cameron; and author, TV and radio host Andreas Schroeder.

The British Columbia Achievement Foundation is an independent group endowed by the province of B.C. to celebrate, provincially and nationally, excellence in the arts, humanities, enterprise and community service.

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