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Incident Name:  Waldron Creek Fire on the Lewis and Clark National Forest
Date: 8/25/1931
Personnel: 5 lives lost
Agency/Organization: US Forest Service
Position: firefighters


Charles Allen of Pittsburgh, PA
Herbert Novotny, 20, of Great Falls, MT
Harry Gunnerson (or Gunderson), 34, of Great Falls, MT
Ted Bierchen, 43, of Great Falls, MT
Frank Williamson, 24, of Great Falls, MT

On August 25, 1931, firefighters from the Lewis and Clark National Forest were fighting a fire near Waldron Creek on the forest when they were entrapped and burned over. They did not survive.


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near Waldron Creek, about 35 miles west of Choteau

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Fallen Firefighters are named:
5 firefighters named as lost 5 firefighters named as lost


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Media Articles and Reports


  • Bodies of Two Men Burned in Waldon Creek Fire Buried Here Saturday

    10 Sept 1931 | originally from the Choteau Acantha (MT), copied from the Find a Grave website

    Simple but impressive services were held here Saturday afternoon at the Roberts Funeral Home for Harry Gunnerson and Charles Allen, two of the five men who were burned to death at the Waldron creek fire on Tuesday, Aug. 25. Rev E.R. Kaemmer conducted the service and interment was in Choteau cemetery. Forestry official and a small number of others were in attendance.

    The supervisor's office in Great Falls was able to get in touch with a sister of Gunnerson who lives in Arborg, Manitoba, and she advised that unless the government could ship the remains to that place to bury them here. The government will pay the expense of shipping bodies of men who were lost in fighting forest fires to any place in the United States but will not pay the expense to foreign countries.

    In the case of Allen, nothing further could be learned of his relatives. He gave his mother's address as Pittsburgh, Pa., at the time he enlisted, but she could not be found at the address given and it is thought this was an old address. Friends of Allen said he was a World war veteran but this could not be confirmed.
    Full story of the incident can be found in the Choteau Acantha, 10 Sept. 1931, pages 1 and 8


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Photos, Videos, & Tributes



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Contributors to this article: Mellie


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