Sponsored by the
U.S. Fire Administration
A series of enormously violent forest fires swept the Nothern Rockies during the summer of 1910 reaching a climax on August 20th in what became known as the "Big Blowup" or "Big Burn." Drought conditions during the late spring and early summer of 1910 presaged the dramatic events of August. By August 10th reports were coming in that powerful fires were beginning to spread throughout large swaths of Washington, Idaho and Montana. Local, and state authorities summoned additional resources including some 4,000 soldiers to cope with the threat. By August 19th the situation had improved to the point that authorities were releasing their additional personnel. However the next day, August 20th, 1910, hurricane-force winds swept in reigniting embers all across the region.
Before the fires were brought under control or had burnt themselves out more than 3 million acres of forest as well as several small towns had been completely consumed. It's estimated that about 85 people were killed including 78 firefighters.
Legacy: As a result of this experience forest fire issues came prominently to the fore in public discourse, and new fire prevention and suppression policies for the nation's wildlands were developed that lasted more than half a century.
Read more about this fire online including eyewitness accounts: