Film maker George Sibley will return to Bonners Ferry to show his most recent project "Ordeal by Fire", a documentary commemorating the fires of 1910. The film will be shown on Thursday August 26 at 7 p.m. at the Museum Community Events Center next to the Museum on Main Street. Sibley will introduce the film and answer questions following the showing. A donation of $10 for museum education programs is suggested.
The fires which raged across the panhandle of Idaho and the mountains of western Montana in August of 1910 "blew up" into the biggest forest fire in US history. America had seen big fires before, but this was the first time that a serious effort to fight such fires was attempted. In 1910 the federal government, mostly in the form of the US Forest Service, was committed to conservation, and it sent a virtual fire army of 10,000 men into the woods. This massive campaign started out as hundreds of smaller efforts to fight fires kindled by lightning and steam locomotives and people across the Northern Rockies in July. There were bad fires everywhere that unusually dry year, but the mountain west was hit especially hard. Fires raged from St. Maries, Idaho across the Bitterroot Mountains and over to Glacier Park and the Blackfeet Indian reservation.
"Ordeal By Fire" is an important Idaho-Montana story with real national interest.
The hour-long film features interviews with historians and scientists as well as some fascinating family stories, illustrated with period newsreels and photographs. A famous Idaho component of the Big Burn is the story of how Ranger Ed Pulaski of Wallace saved most of his crew from being overrun by the fires by keeping them in a mine tunnel on the West Fork of Placer Creek. This is one of the highlights of Sibley's film, which he recreated with local folks standing in for Pulaski's crew.
George Sibley has been a film-maker for over 40 years, mostly making educational films and documentaries. Last year (2009) his film "Shadows of David Thompson" was shown in Bonners Ferry.