AUGUST 30, 1910 – Father has just written me about the great forest fire which has been raging in the Bitter Roots around Avery, Idaho and in northwestern Montana.
Father rushed west from St. Paul to help maintain telegraphic communications because the St. Paul Road operates through three of the counties involved – Benewah and Shoshone in Idaho and Mineral in the state of Montana.
As the flame spread toward Avery, two trainloads of Avery residents were moved to Tekoa, Washington, a journey which was extremely hazardous for it was necessary to cross a number of blazing bridges in the mountainous section.
One engineer with only one assistant in his engine, stopped at Falcon, already in flames, to find many people gathered on the platform. They immediately began climbing aboard the engine, clinging to it wherever they could take hold.
The engineer couldn't carry them all on the engine, so he cut an empty car from others that were in flames and left Falcon with the car and engine jammed with survivors. Twenty-seven fire fighters were cut off and burned to death.
The roundhouse foreman in Avery, Ralph W. Anderson, saved the town by summoning all his personnel to build a backfire on both sides of the St. Joe River which forced the fire around Avery. It was reported that in order to carry out this plan he had to physically overcome the sheriff, who was opposed to back-firing, and his deputies.