The Big Burn’s 104th Anniversary

Editor’s note:  Today, August 20, 2014, marks the 104th anniversary of the Great 1910 Fire.  Today, also, according to informed forestry opinion, there is two and a half times as much fuel in our forests as there was in pre-fire 1910.  Perhaps even more than that. Hence, a similar or even greater conflagration could happen tomorrow, or next year, or a year thereafter.  Small wonder Shoshone County’s leadership continues to press for landscape-scale forest management and aggressive fuel reduction projects in our forests.  By way of commemorating the Big Burn, today we offer a link to Ranger “Big Ed” Pulaski’s personal account of his experience in the fire, published in 1923.  Please especially note therein the caption to one of the two photos presented in Pulaski’s essay (reproduced below).

East end of Wallace, after the fire

East end of Wallace, after the fire

Pulaski’s caption to an image of the memorial plaque for one of the collective graves of firefighters who perished in the Big Burn:  

second big burn grave

During the holocaust of 1910 many lives were lost, and in recognition of some of those unsung heroes who, burned and smoke-scarred, battled and choked out their lives on the far-flung fire-line, the Forest Service raised this rugged monument. Suitable headstones with bronze tablets were erected over as many of these “heroes of peace” as could be traced, for they died as truly in the service of their country as did those on Flanders’ poppy-covered fields.

— Ed Pulaski, 1923


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