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Memorial Planned for Firefighters Who Died in the Great Fire of 1910

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Memorial Planned for Firefighters Who Died in the Great Fire of 1910

The Great Fire of 1910 (also known as the Big Blowup) burned three million acres across three U.S. states in two days in August, 1910. 87 people perished in the blaze. 78 of those who died were firefighters, including an entire crew of 28 men lost in Idaho. 9 towns burned to the ground in the fire, and it was only extinguished when a cold front brought rain into the area. Many believe the Big Blowup to be the largest fire in American history.

The Silver Valley Chamber of Commerce in Kellogg, Idaho is currently raising funds to create a memorial to the 6 firefighters who died in the Great Fire of 1910 near Wallace Idaho. The six were from Ranger Pulaski’s crew. Ed Pulaski is a figure who has become legendary in the fire community. During the height of the Great Fire of 1910, Pulaski led a team of men out to fight the wildfire. They quickly found themselves overwhelmed by the magnitude of the ignition. Seeing that escape from the raging flames was impossible, Ranger Pulaski quickly led 45 of his crew to an old abandoned mine shaft where he convinced them to lie down on the ground as the air grew hot and smokey around them. When the men would have run out into the inferno outside, Pulaski stationed himself at the entrance of the mine, drew a pistol and threatened to shoot anyone who tried to leave, and all survived. Pulaski also invented the ubiquitous (and very useful) pulaski tool, which combines an axe blade with a adze-like grubbing tool.

The Silver Valley Chamber of Commerce is trying to raise $25,000, but donations of any size will be appreciated.

Checks should be made out to:
“1910 Firefighters Memorial”
and mailed to:

1910 Fire Commemoration Committee
Historic Silver Valley Chamber of Commerce
10 Station Ave.
Kellogg, ID  83839

Photo Copyright Rachel C Smith 2003 All Rights Reserved Aftermath of Arson Fire, New Zealand

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Ever Wondered How Wildfires Get Named?

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Ever Wondered How Wildfires Get Named?

In the summer of 1999, I was one of hundreds of firefighters fighting to stop the Sheepeater Complex. Earlier that summer, I spent a week in the Oregon woods on the Big Dipper fire. And those aren’t even the stranger ones. A few years ago, the Biscuit fire grabbed national headlines.

Daniel Engbar of Slate thought that the Burnt Bread fire was a pretty funny name, and decided to do some investigating on how wildfires get named. What he found lined up pretty well with my experience as a U.S. Forest Service Hotshot and Smokejumper: the crew performing IA (Initial Attack) on the fire generally gets naming rights. As a type IV Incident Commander, I never had the chance to name any of the fires that I was on, but maybe that’s for the best. The IA crew leader only makes the naming suggestion: dispatchers and the local forest leadership get to have the final say over a fire’s name, making isn’t similar to other fires that are burning nearby, it isn’t offensive, and most of all it can be easily said over the radio.

Picture credit: Rachel C. Smith 2004, All rights reserved. Prescribed Fire in Scotland.

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