Was This Natural Disaster The Biggest To Ever Hit Montana?
Here in Montana, we've certainly seen Mother Nature at her worst.
From record flooding to earthquakes, blizzards, and forest fires, we've had our share of natural disasters over the years. The question is: which would go down as the biggest natural disaster in the state's history?
According to The Active Times, we have to go back over one-hundred years.
Back in the spring of 1910, a fire started in the Blackfeet National Forest. This fire would go down in Montana history as "the Big Blowup" and "the Big Burn". It was thought that the fire was under control, until hurricane-like winds blew through the state in August of that year, turning the controlled fire into an untamed disaster with "flames hundreds of feet high".
When it was all said and done, the fire burned over 3 million acres in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and even into British Columbia. It took the lives of 87 individuals, most of them firefighters, including a crew of 28 that would be known as the Lost Crew. The fire destroyed many buildings—even entire towns.
It was reported that the smoke from the fire could be seen as far east as New York and almost 500 miles out into the Pacific Ocean.
The fire of 1910 would change the way both the public and the government viewed forest fires. In fact, after the disaster, Congress doubled the budget for the U.S. Forest Service. While not the deadliest fire on record, the "Big Burn" is considered the biggest fire in United States history.
In the end, the extremely hot and dry summer of 1910 was to blame. When the strong winds came through, it was estimated that there were as many as 3,000 small fires burning in the region. All of those small fires would morph into one, causing around a billion dollars worth of lost lumber.