"If you know your history, then you know where you're coming from," Bob Marley once sang. After ten years working on wildfire safety, reading Timothy Egan's The Big Burn really helped me understand the roots of American wildland fire suppression policy and forest management in a new way.
The PBS American Experience show will debut a new film by the same name, based on Egan's book and documenting the 1910 fire complex that burned more than three million acres and killed 78 firefighters. More than a mere tale of nature's wrath, the story of this particular fire shows the ramifications and results set into national policy that would influence a century of thought and action on fire suppression and land management.
The first airing on PBS is tonight at 9 pm Eastern on some stations (unfortunately not in Boston yet!). Check local listings here to watch and experience this truly American experience of wildfire. You can also tell your own story of disaster survival through the American Experience website.