In the summer of 1910, over 3 million acres burned across northern Idaho and western Montana. Eighty-five people died and multiple towns were destroyed in the fire.
1910 was considered a dry year by anyone’s account at the time. Much like the environmental conditions we are experiencing today in many parts of the United States, the snows melted early and the spring rains simply did not come… “By June, the woods were on fire in a hundred different places.”
Descriptions from the time include those of firestorms and “trees by the millions [that] became exploding candles”.
The impact of this incident shaped US Forest Service policy for decades and influence the public perception of fire suppression and fire within wildlands.
The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program has set up a Staff Ride website where participants are put in the shoes of the men who were at The Great Fire in Idaho. It serves as a Case Study and an opportunity for people to learn what happened and ask questions about decision-making.
The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.