The message that Egan is trying to convey is that Roosevelt saved America by creating land conservation.
The author’s purpose was to inform people about this terrible wild-fire and how it spread, and how our country reacted. He wanted to highlight to role of Roosevelt in using this national disaster to raise awareness of the need for national parks and preserving public land.
Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot, had kept from the control of men they castigated as robber barons and plunderers of the public domain. (p, 9)
Egan also wanted to show the reaction of the country to the disaster. Some people reacted very well, being heroes and showing bravery. Others did not.
All these prominent men … they were disgusting, men without honor. (p. 175)
In general, people really banded together to save their forests and homes. This made them more likely to want to maintain public land.