Discover how a group of African American soldiers helped change attitudes about race as a result of their heroic peacetime service fighting a 1910 wildfire, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Big Burn. After a violent electrical storm ignited nearly 1,000 fires across the drought-stricken Northern Rockies in 1910, the federal government sent troops to fight them, including men from the 25th Infantry, known as the Buffalo Soldiers, the first division of African Americans to serve as professional peacetime soldiers. Despite their inexperience fighting fires, and in the face of local racist sentiment, these African Americans evacuated and later saved the town of Avery, halting the advance of a fire that threatened to destroy it and winning over the local population. This resource is part of the American Experience collection.
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