Spring 2013

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The Great Fire

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Storyteller Ben Kemper, a Northwestern sophomore, spent his gap year crafting a story about the great fire that raged through western Montana and northern Idaho in August 1910. Here’s a sample of his story:

“And wherever the wind hit, the once-defeated fires rekindled. All down the fire lines the ground-bound flames raced up the trunks of the pines and started to crown, leaping from tree to tree faster than a man could run. The wind whipped up a wall of flame 6 miles wide, 30 stories high and advancing at 80 miles per hour. … Much later scientists said that the energy produced by the flames was equal to 15 tons of dynamite going off every three minutes.

"Now understand, there were some 1,000 firefighters out in the woods, along with scores of homesteaders.  Thay were immediately trapped by the fire. In Pinkies crew, the 74 men stopped their work to hear a roar like a locomotive. They stood paralyzed as the roar of the fire sprinted over the mountains and the smoke surged forward in a wave. Ranger Roche seized command."