- Wikimedia Commons
- On Aug. 20, 1910, fires in northern Idaho and eastern Washington burned 3 million acres of land and killed 87 people, mostly firefighters.
As thousands of firefighters continue fighting blazes across the region, loggers in north-central Idaho received a refresher course in how to assist suppression efforts.
The Spokesman-Review reports more than 200 forest workers attended an Idaho Department of Lands training course in Orofino, Idaho, intended to reinforce skills and knowledge such as how to use a fire shelter and understand fire behavior. According to the SR, the course is required for equipment operators who want to assist wildland firefighters.
IDL is hosting similar training sessions in other Idaho cities, including Priest River, Bonners Ferry and Moscow.
According to the department, 420,000 acres have burned so far in Idaho this year—a historic fire season with an eerie anniversary. A series of fires ripped through northern Idaho and eastern Washington on this week in 1910—destroying towns like Wallace, Idaho— and scorching more than 3 million acres of public and private land.
Referred to as the Big Blowup—and explored in the 2010 book, The Big Burn, by New York Times columnist and Northwest resident Timothy Egan—the fires began in earnest on Aug. 10, 1910, with blazes in the Blackfeet, Cabinet, Clearwater, Flathead, Kaniksu and Lolo national forests. On Aug. 20, 1910, high winds whipped the flames into a massive conflagration that claimed 87 lives.
Scars from the 1910 fires remain throughout northern Idaho, a vivid reminder as this year's fire season casts a pall of smoke over the region. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality this morning registered "Hazardous" air quality in areas southwest of Orofino and "Very Unhealthy" or "Unhealthy" across a swath of the state north to Moscow.
Strict burn bans remain in effect around the state.