Snows in the Pacific Northwest in the winter of 1910
resulted in deadly avalanches in the Cascade and Bitterroot Mountains.
A dry summer followed, and many forest fires proved hard to contain in
the region between Glacier National Park and the Cascades. Then on August 20 and 21 strong winds
arrived in the region and pushed the fires into firestorms that devastated
millions of acres of forests and some towns laying in those forested areas, the
Big Blowup, known collectively as the 1910 Fire.
The 1910 Fire has been written about
officially by those directly involved and by researchers, and it continues
to be written about.
Still, some of the most powerful accounts were
those published in newspapers the week or so following the fire(s).
And occasionally new material surfaces, such
as, the narrative of a young man sent out to boss a crew of fire fighters
hired off the streets of Spokane. He
matter-of-factly describes the experience, his observations, the orders sent
to him with the supplies arriving to the fire by pack train.
Keep in mind the automobile is seldom mentioned
in 1910 Fire stories.
Railroads were the nation's life lines.
News stories were sent via the telegraph.
Telephone lines were still being strung, and
subsequently burned down by the fires.
So welcome to the
1910 Fire website.
It is hoped that this site will be complete by
August 20, 2010, the hundredth anniversary of the Big Blowup.
The website comes from Avery, Idaho, a town
with the dubious distinction of being closer than any other community to the
sites of the bulk of the fire fatalities.
Avery was also the supply depot with rail service from which fire fighting
crews in the nearby forests were supplied by pack trains.
The available microfilm and internet images of old newspaper articles are
often a challenge to read.
Thus transcriptions of those articles are being
offered here with no changes in the spelling and sentence structure.
Listings of victims are based on headstone
spellings in the case of those killed, or death certificates or coroner's
records, where available.
Idaho did not begin requiring death reports
Unfortunately for the historic record, most of those who died fighting the
forest fires died in Idaho.
goes to the historical and genealogical societies and museums and libraries
of the region of the fires, and to numerous individuals who helped locate
graves as far off as Wisconsin and Illinois and Ohio.
Most of the graves, 57 of them, are in the Fire
Fighters Circle at the Woodlawn Cemetery at St. Maries, Idaho.
Monuments and headstones for thirteen more victims are
at the Nine Mile Cemetery at Wallace, Idaho.
The remaining nine headstones that have been
found are in cemeteries in Idaho, Washington, Montana, Wisconsin and
Historical records point toward the potential
location of the graves of six more of the dead.
Six more headstones remain elusive or simply
Then there are a couple dozen more reports of dead that have yet to be
Total known dead from headstones, death
certificates, coroner's reports, and, in four cases,
distinct newspaper articles,
Twenty-eight of those 92 died six miles from Avery at
the head of Storm Creek near a camp set up for the fire fighters.
Deaths occurred from the Big Blowup at twenty other
And narrow escapes occurred at numerous other
“I want to call your attention to the wonderful work
done by the Forest Service in fighting the great fires this year.
With very inadequate appropriation made for the Forest Service,
nevertheless that service,
because of the absolute honesty and efficiency with which it has been
conducted, has borne itself so
as to make an American proud of having such a body of public servants;
and they have shown the same qualities of heroism in battling with
the fire, at the peril and
sometimes to the loss of their lives,
that the firemen of the great cities show in dealing with burning
President of the United States
1901 - 1909