From the Author
Things got bad on August 20 when the weather took a turnfor the worse. A cold front swept in from the north and with it came gale-forcewinds that turned the myriad small fires into two major furnaces ofdestruction. Smoke drifted to New York and south to Colorado. Ships 500 milesout into the Pacific couldn't see the stars at night, the haze was so thick.
The U.S. Forest Service was just in its fifth year andwholly unprepared for what had been unleashed upon them. They stood back andstared, with neither the manpower nor the tools necessary to fight it. Butfight it they did, and to disastrous effect. The "Lost Crew" of twenty-eightwas overcome by the blaze and died near Avery, Idaho. At least 1,000 peoplefrom the town fled to a tunnel in the mountain after racing over a burningtrestle bridge. A third of Wallace, Idaho, burned to the ground as trains spedto Spokane and Missoula with residents that'd suddenly become refugees.
Edward Pulaski had a crew of forty men west of PlacerCreek when a backfire that'd been started to save Wallace instead turned onthem and they became trapped. Their only option was an abandoned prospect mine,the opening six feet high by five feet wide. It ran for 250 feet into themountain and was their only hope.
Flames nipped at their heels as the men ran, and Pulaskistood by the entrance trying to fight the fire as best he could as itthreatened to follow them right into the tunnel. He and everyone else passedout from lack of oxygen. They came to later that night while the flames werestill burning outside, although at a lesser rate. One brave soul had had enoughand announced he was leaving. Sure that his chances were slim to none, and alsoconfident others would be emboldened to leave with him, Pulaski drew his gunand threatened to shoot anyone who made to leave. No one did, and all but fiveof the men survived the ordeal.