Rick and Susie Graetz (they bring a geography class to the North Fork each year) have a fascinating article in the Hungry Horse News about the Great Burn area in the Lolo National Forest . . .
Stephen Pyne’s vivid description of the summer from hell that visited the forests of the northern Bitterroot Divide on the Montana/Idaho border in 1910 goes like this:
“Winds felled trees as if they were blades of grass; darkness covered the land; firewhirls danced across the blackened skies like an aurora borealis from below; the air was electric with tension, as if the earth itself was ready to explode into flames. And everywhere people heard the roar, like a thousand freight trains crossing a thousand steel trestles.”
From May through August of that year, little rain fell and the snow had disappeared from southern slopes by April. Vegetation was rendered tinder dry. In July, hundreds of fires, some lightning caused but most by careless people, were burning.