Dead Fire picks up following an infected attack on Sarah Mansfield's fortified house, during which three people seek shelter with Zed Zane and his fellow survivors. In the confusion, however, Murphy is gunned down, and an unthinking, emotional Zed strikes out to enact revenge. Unfortunately, the shooting and commotion have only attracted more Whites. A diversion plan emerges to rid the horde of the Smart One trying to figure a way through the gates, and lead the other infected away from the compound. Momentarily safe, the survivors turn to the matter of where to bury the dead.
Zed, being now the only one available who would not attract the attentions of the infected, accompanies Freitag on this morbid mission. In short order, Zed is once more embittered and hardened against trust, when he finds himself stranded. After a series of developments that prove the Whites to be more formidable foes than he ever dreamed, he finds his way back to Sarah's house to find the compound overrun with infected and his friends mysteriously vanished without a trace, leaving Zed to rely once more solely on his wits to survive.