Yellowstone fires, big blowup, August 20, 1988

In the summer of 1988 numerous fires burned 793,000 acres of Yellowstone National Park as well as large tracts of land surrounding the park. Half of the acres burned inside the park resulted from fires that started outside the boundary. Nine of the fires were human-caused, and 42 were started by lightning.

Protecting the Old Faithful Inn, 1988. Photo: Jeff Henry

On the worst single day, August 20, 1988, tremendous winds pushed fire across more than 150,000 acres. Throughout August and early September, some park roads and facilities were closed to the public, and residents of nearby towns outside the park feared for their property and their lives.

Yellowstone’s fire management policy was the topic of heated debate, from the restaurants of park border towns to the halls of Congress. Following this event, the National Park Service and other federal land management agencies rewrote their policies affecting how they managed fires with less than full suppression strategies.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

3 thoughts on “Yellowstone fires, big blowup, August 20, 1988”

  1. Yellowstone isn’t a small park, and to think that 36% of its land burned is really incredible. The scars are still easily visible in satellite imagery.

  2. It was a wild, crazy and unbelivable day. For many of us both old and new firefighters awsomefire behavior and a series of running, multiple close calls all day.

  3. it is a horrible fire but you need more pictures its not just me saying that my whole six grade class says you need more pictures that is the same picture i have in my literature book so dont inore me add more pictures

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