After the confusion about when “The Fire that Changed Everything – The Big Burn” would be aired, it now appears certain that it will be on PBS February 3. As you probably know, the fires of 1910 affected wildland fire management for the next 100 years.
Below is a “behind the scenes” video showing some of the filming as it occurred, and candid shots of the actors between shots.
It took 3 days to build Pulaski’s “cave” on the set. An excerpt from Timothy Egan’s best-selling book, “The Big Burn”, about which the film is based, describes what happened that day in 1910:
Pulaski led his men through the inferno, until, at last, he came to one of the old mining shafts along the creek. “In here,” he ordered, his hand on his sidearm, “everyone inside the tunnel.” After an agonizing moment of indecision, forty-four men rushed into the opening and threw themselves on the ground.
On January 25 we posted a 30-second video “tease” about the film. Back in September we first wrote about the film when it was scheduled to air on September 9. The videos still say “coming this fall on PBS”.
Rob Chaney wrote an interesting article about the film for yesterday’s edition of the Missoulian. Below is an excerpt:
…The filmmakers scoured old archives of early fires and firefighters, and combined them with black-and-white versions of modern wildfire behavior. They also used animation techniques to make still photos of places like Wallace appear threatened by moving flames and smoke.
Explanations come from Egan, along with Montana writer John Maclean, fire ecologist Steve Pyne and environmental historian Char Miller. Buffalo Soldiers National Museum chief docent Charles Williams adds some fascinating details about the seven companies of black soldiers who played crucial roles in defending the mountain communities.
The story of a fire that burned more than 3 million acres in 36 hours would be compelling in itself.
But Egan’s research revealed how it happened just when the U.S. government was defining its role as a public lands manager. President Theodore Roosevelt and his champion of forest policy, Gifford Pinchot, were reining in the free-for-all logging and mining that threatened to shred the forests of the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains. And a large part of their strategy was the claim that forests could be cultivated and protected like farms.