Charles Petersen reviews "The Big Burn," Timothy Eganpbs. The Big Burn Timothy Egan tells the story of a wildfire that ripped through forests in Washington, Idaho and Montana. American historywsj. Browse a photo gallery of the men who fought the Big Burn in 1910 and helped make the U. Courtesy of Houghtonlatimes. Forest Service what it is today. Author Timothy Egan argues in The Big Burn that the forest fire of 1910 — the largest in American history — actually saved the forests, even assmithsonianmag.