Forest Service firefighters responded to a report of smoke in the Priest Lake area Thursday evening to find a single tree engulfed in flames.
The tree is known locally as the “shoe tree” due to hundreds of pairs of shoes that have been nailed to the trunk or hung from the branches. It was completely destroyed. Melting shoe rubber made the fire difficult to put out.
The “shoe tree” has been an informal local landmark for many years despite Forest Service officials discouraging people from adding new footwear.
District Ranger Dick Kramer said, “I really feel for the community’s loss of this tree. People started adding shoes to this tree as early as the 1940’s, so we appreciate the history and the community’s attachment, but we would like to discourage the public from creating another shoe tree to take this one’s place.”
The fire’s cause is under investigation. Members of the public with information should call the local Forest Service office in Priest Lake at (208) 443-2512.