Big Burn, The

Jeanette Ingold
Three young people go after a wildfire, believing fire is something they can stop. IT IS SUMMER 1910 and the mountains are burning. Dozens of blazes dot the countryside, born of sparks thrown from trains, from campfires gone out of control, from lightning strikes that ignite the towering snags of dry forests. When these fires join, they become one vast wall of flame that will destroy everything. Caught in its path are three teens. At sixteen, Jarrett is fool enough to lose his railroad job, old enough to court Lizbeth, and perhaps man enough to join the fight against the forest fires as a ranger. Transplanted easterner Lizbeth doesn't own the land she loves so much, but she will do anything to stay -- even if she has to let her homestead burn so that she can begin anew. And Seth enlists in the army, hoping a uniform will give him that rare thing, courage -- or something even more rare for a black man in turn-of-the-century America: respect. But respect and courage vanish in the face of the advancing wildfires. Based on the story of one the biggest wildfires of the century, The Big Burn is a portrait of a time and a place and of an event that altered the face of Montana and Idaho, changed the way we fight wildfires, and dramatically transformed the people at the front lines forever.


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