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Chuck Johnson, Fairbanks, AK, is the winner!

Selway fires of 1934 is the answer for Number 515 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: A conflagration

Tuesday: Different boundaries

Wednesday: Surrounded two others

Thursday: Selway

Friday: Two men died.

Saturday: A wet spring

Monday: Roared up the Lochsa canyon

Tuesday: Blackened over 250,000 acres

Wednesday: There were 2,475 CCC men that helped

The Selway National Forest fires of 1934, particularly the Pete King Fire burned 252,250 acres and the lives of two Civilian Conservation Corps members were lost.

Leroy McGinnis, 25, Kewanee, IL and Lester Johnson, 25, Galesburg IL, were killed at French Creek while fighting the fire. They were struck by a falling tree.

Many Forest Service people were skeptical about the CCC program and thought it would not last more than a few months. Some also doubted that unskilled boys from Eastern cities and the rural South could accomplish much. However, according to Idaho PTV's web site about Major Fenn's Country, the Roosevelt Administration pushed the program with vigor and soon the woods of northern Idaho were full of CCC enrollees from all over the nation. In August 1934, some 2,475 of them helped fight the Pete King-McClendon Butte fire.

Several forest lookout towers burned in the fires including Grouse Point, Idaho Point, Old Man and Split Creek Point.

In James P. Kelly's Moon Idaho, he says that the spring of 1934 was wet, cool and green in central Idaho, but a heat wave began in June and turned the area to a tinderbox. On Aug. 10, a dry lightning storm hit the Clearwater River area sparking a number of blazes, including the Pete King Fire just downstream frm the Historic Lochsa Ranger Station. Thanks to the abundant ladder fuels, it soon turned into a crown fire that rapidly spread and burned out of control for 44 days, before a heavy, prolonged rain arrived and extinguished the flames.

At one point, the ranger station was surrounded with flames, but 200 firefighters that had gathered there valiantly fought back the flames and saved the structures. In the end, the fire charred 375 square miles.

In October of 1934, the Selway National Forest, which was established in 1911, was divided between the Bitterroot, Clearwater, Lolo and Nez Perce Forests.

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