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On August 5, 1949, a fire was spotted at Mann Gulch, near Helena, Montana. The U.S. Forest Service dispatched a team of 15 smokejumpers, who were met by a fire guard from a nearby campground. When the fire blew up, thirteen firefighters were killed, three escaped. While the Forest Service studied what happened and revised its training and safety measures, few outside the agency remembered the tragedy. That is not until Norman Maclean published a meditation on it, Young Men and Fire, did the event connect with national and cultural interests—and continues to thirty years later.

Join fire historian Stephen Pyne and Forest History Society's Historian and host Jamie Lewis as they explore the fire on its 75th anniversary and how Maclean’s book affected the American fire community. Each conversation opens with a short presentation before Jamie and his guest take questions from the audience.

Stephen Pyne is a fire historian, emeritus professor at Arizona State University, and the author of The Northern Rockies: A Fire Survey and most recently Five Suns: A Fire History of Mexico. Jamie has written about the fire for the FHS blog and served as an advisor on a documentary film about it.

Event Details

Aug 5 2024, 10 - 11am
Virtual Event
Presenter(s): Stephen Pyne