On a hot, dry day in August of 1967, the forces of nature combined to create a series of events that would be forever in the minds of many Boundary and Bonner County residents.
This fire, known as the Trapper Peak Fire, had a firefighting army of 2,200, with 100 bulldozers raging through the rampaging flames, along with planes and helicopters, ambulances, water trailers and fire trucks making courageous attempts to contain the spread.
The very same month, lightning unleashed its fury on Sundance Mountain in Bonner County, which engulfed more than 56,000 acres, and in a period of only nine hours traveled 16 miles. The Sundance became a spectacular and horrific blaze with a record setting rate of consumption, racing over the Selkirk Crest toward Boundary County.
This was one of the hottest, fastest, and most destructive in US firefighting history.
Commemorative events are being scheduled to observe the 50th year of these two unforgettable fires in northern Idaho with the efforts of numerous agencies and organizations. Priest Lake Museum will hold a program of commemoration on Wednesday, August 23, at 7 p.m. at the Priest Lake Elementary School. Boundary County Museum will hold its program on Saturday, August 26, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Museum’s Portrait Hall.
On September 2, a dedication of a new trail head interpretive sign and a memorial plaque honoring the two firefighters who lost their lives in the Sundance Fire will be held, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Upper Pack River Bridge (west of Highway 95 and the Samuels Store, on Upper Pack River Road, approximately 4.5 miles).
T-shirts are on sale at the Museum and Idaho Department of Lands office in Bonners Ferry, and a GoFundMe campaign has been established to raise funds to cover the costs of the Memorial Plaque and Trail Head Sign, as well as to fund travel for the families of the fallen to meet for the very first time and attend the dedication.
If you would like to donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/sundance-fire-50th-commemoration.
More information will be coming in the next weeks.