If you are on Facebook, I bet your feed is filled with stories about the fires. Mine is.
These articles brought to mind a post I wrote awhile back about using disasters as a way to engage students in larger questions.
It also made me wonder if this year’s fire season offers a “teachable moment.” If so, here are some resources for teaching about fire and fire history. Most are taken from the Montana: Stories of the Land Teachers Guide and Companion Website, Chapter 12.
- Tales of the 1910 Fire is an exhibit, including a first-hand account of the fires by a forest ranger, created by Archives & Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
- The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' "Fire of the Land" website is a great resource in itself and includes links to many additional resources.
- The US Forest Service has gathered information on the history of smoke jumping.
- The Great 1910 Fire is a website that has transcribed newspaper articles, lists of fire victims and photographs.
- There's also been much written about the Mann Gulch fire, the most beautiful contribution being Norman Maclean's Young Men and Fire. US Forest Service History also dedicates a page on its website to the deadly 1949 episode.
Interested in changes how fire policy has changed since 1910? We created this bibliography for National History Day students, but it’s a good starting point for any researcher. Other interesting sources include:
- NOVA’s Fire Wars
- National Park Service Fire Timeline
- “Forest Fire in Washington State”
- Articles in the Missoulian, by Shery Devlin, on the Big Burn. To find these online type “Big Burn of 1910 Sherry Devlin” into the Missoulian’s “Advanced Search.”
- What should the government’s approach be toward fire protection in the Wildland-Urban Interface?
- How do state and federal policies affect fires? (Recently, Senator Daines called for more logging to prevent fires and Senator Tester called for action to slow climate change.)
- What are the budget implications of increasing forest fires and how should we pay for fire fighting?
If you do end up exploring fire in a meaningful way in your classroom, I'd love to learn what you did and how it went. And in the meantime, I'm sure you join me in wishing for snow.