The Big Burn

Posted by Cary Balzer on

In the summer of 1910, hundreds of wildfires raged across the West. By the time it was over, more than three million acres were scorched and at least 78 firefighters were dead.  The largest fire in American history had profound consequences. It reinforced for Americans the value of land protected for the common good and assured the future of the Forestry Service. But it had profoundly tragic ramifications as well. Rather than prompting debate about fire protection, the fire squelched all discussion. It ended the tussle between those who thought every fire should be fought promptly and aggressively and those who believed that fire suppression was not always the best way to protect the wilderness. It set the Forest Service and conservationists on a century-long journey away from controlled burning that would, in the end, harm the ecology of the wilderness it was intended to protect.

The Big Burn: The American Experience airs Tuesday, February 3rd at 8:00 PM PT / 9:00 PM MT on KSPS-TV.  
This one-hour program will repeat on Saturday, February 7th at 2:00 PM PT / 3:00 PM MT and Sunday, February 8th at 3:00 PM PT / 4:00 PM MT on KSPS-TV.

For more on the Big Burn please read Carolyn Lamberson’s article from The Spokesman-Review,

YouTube Clip of the Week: Learn the story of a wildfire that devoured more than three million acres in the Rockies in 1910.