Can the fires of 1910 occur again?

An article by Angela Marshall at wonders if the Big Burn of 1910 could occur again. Here is a brief excerpt from the article:

…But, the question many of us want answered today is, will a fire in magnitude and destruction to that of the 1910 forest fire happen again?”

“Weather wise, we see these dry Cold Fronts pretty regularly. An example is the Sundance Fire of 1967 on September 1st. A dry Cold Front hit that fire and it burned 50,000 acres in one afternoon,” [National Weather Service Science Operations Officer Chris] Gibson pointed out.

“Oh! I certainly believe that. Well, I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s probably far more likely now because we have so much more fuel,” [University of Montana Ecosystem and Conservations Sciences Chairman Ronal] Wakimoto told us.

Even with the advanced weather forecasting tools and modern firefighting technology, Wakimoto stresses we still can’t control the weather, or the severity of the winds, as we experienced on August 20th of 1910.

“If an Incident Commander were told if he or she were told they would have to try and fight some of those fires, we would probably have in the plans how many body bags they would expect because they would really kill people under those conditions. And, we killed what 78 or so firefighters as it was. But, we know better than to get in front of those big fires.”

Thanks Dick

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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.