As part of the One School, One Book project, students in Salishian are looking at Polson and the Flathead Reservation during the early reservation time period. We are looking through old newspaper, two of which were publishing here in 1910–the Flathead Courier and the Lake Shore Sentinel. That was the year of the “Great Fire” which burned 3 million acres, mostly in northern Idaho and western Montana. But the Polson area got off relatively easy.
Reservation Fires are Extinguished
The forest fires that have been raging in the reservation country are a thing of the past and the: atmosphere has again assumed the clearness characteris tic of this section. Indian Agent Morgan is quoted in Wednesday’s Missoulian as follows:
One of the most significant forest fires in the history of the United States occurred in the Northwest in 1910. Eighty-five people died as direct victims of the holocaust. The fire led to significant changes in federal policies regarding fires, and in changes in the newly formed U.S. Forest Service.
“There has been comparatively little damage done. When we consider the extreme dryness of the forests and the favorable conditions for a big fire, it is remarkable that the blazes have been confined to such small areas. The fires have been kept out of the most valuable timber on the reservation and much of the forest that has been burned over has not suffered commercially. This gratifying result is due to the efforts of the soldiers who have worked willingly and zealously wherever they have been assigned. Officers and men have vied with each other and, even before the rain came, the fires were well under control. You can safely say now that the fires are out. There have been no fatalities, but Captain Bates of the Twenty-fifth infantry, who is in command of E and H companies, had a narrow escape at Perma. With 50 of his men, Captain Bates was fighting an ugly fire in the hills when the blaze flanked the company and nearly cut off the only way of retreat which lay through a narrow gulch. The fire in the rear was discovered just in time, and the men got out all right; but it was a close call. The rains have finished the work of the soldiers in fine shape. If it had not been for the organized fight, the loss in the timber would hare been incalculably greater than it is.”