Book about the great fire of 1910
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy EganOn the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno that jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in the blink of an eye. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand men ?—? college boys, day workers, immigrants from mining camps ?—? to fight the fire. But no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue them.
Egan narrates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force. Equally dramatic is the larger story he tells of outsized president Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen. The robber barons fought Roosevelt and Pinchot’s rangers, but the Big Burn saved the forests even as it destroyed them: the heroism shown by the rangers turned public opinion permanently in their favor and became the creation myth that drove the Forest Service, with consequences still felt in the way our national lands are protected? — ?or not —? today.
Great Fire of 1910
These first employees of the Forest Service were given the monumental task of managing the newly created national forests in the Northern Rockies. Nothing could have prepared them for the severity of the drought there in Fires broke out continually and were fought by the rookie rangers as best they could. In mid-August, the particularly destructive fire season hit its peak: in just 36 hours, a firestorm burned more than three million acres and killed at least 78 firefighters, confronting the fledgling U. Smith Graham Stockmayer Zechariah Vincent. Actors James Hook
A forest the size of Connecticut was exploding in a fearsome whoosh — generating, with fire and oxygen, its own tornadoes and cyclones. The noise was a deafening combination of 60 mph gales, colossal fire-driven updrafts, and the clamor of hundreds of trees cracking, snapping and slamming against earth. Some came to call it The Big Blowup. Others called it the Big Burn. A century ago this week, 3 million acres of North Idaho, Montana and Washington forest were turned to charcoal in two wind-whipped days. One-third of Wallace was obliterated.
In the summer of , a devastating series of forest fires swept over Idaho, Montana, and Washington , culminating on August 20—21 in what is known as the "Big Blowup. It pushed forest fire issues into the public discourse, and led to new fire prevention and suppression policies, policies that still influence fire management around the world today. The first fire of the season broke out on the Blackfeet National Forest in northwestern Montana on April Fires continued throughout the ensuing summer months in fact, fires throughout the West plagued the agency , and the agency scrambled to combat them. By August, the region was experiencing drought conditions.
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Joe National Forests. The fire burned over two days on the weekend of August 20—21,   after strong winds caused numerous smaller fires to combine into a firestorm of unprecedented size. It killed 87 people,  mostly firefighters,   destroyed numerous manmade structures, including several entire towns, and more than three million acres of forest with an estimated billion dollars worth of timber was lost.
Here is a recently made map that shows some of the fires of , at least the ones in Idaho and Montana. The USFS site also includes a schedule of events that commemorate the fires, including a conference in Spokane in October organized by the International Association of Wildland Fire. The museum describes it like this:. The great fires of transformed the face of the West, redefined the U. With objects, interactive components, and many never-before-seen photographs, this will be the biggest exhibit installation at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula in several years.