In the years before studios had big budgets for special effects, movie crews improvised to take advantage of natural disasters such as fires and floods. One day in 1913, the folks at the 'Flying A' studio in Santa Barbara "noticed the cloud of smoke towards the mountains. At first, they thought it was a building in the city, but decided to take advantage of it for a moving picture scene.
"All available players were secured. The journey brought them to the first fire, and as imaginations worked quickly, the players were sent through some exciting stuff, with the flames and smoke serving as settings . . . all of which will be made part of a photoplay, still to be constructed." – Morning Press [Santa Barbara, California], September 18, 1913
Trapped in a Forest Fire was released on December 8, 1913.