Climate change had little to do with this fire season

September 10th, 2020 by Ken

It has been a summer of wildfires.  Searching for an answer our ,Governor Jay Inslee, has resorted to calling them Climate Fires, echoing his climate change campaign for the presidency.  It also further removes the state from any responsibility for allowing the fires to increase in size.

But, fire seasons like we’re experiencing now are not new or unusual.  The West Coast and Washington State have been plagued with wildfires for as long has humans have lived in the area – and probably before that.

The largest and most deadly wildfire in Washington state history happened in 1902 at the beginning of the 20th Century.  In September of that year, unusually dry winds from the east, swept over the Cascades.  The summer had not been unusually hot but as normal, the sun dried out the vegetation and grasses on the westside.

Starting in the Washougal River valley, the fire was started by logging operations.  Flames swept through Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania  counties and roared for three days before rain put an end to the destruction.   When all was done, the fire destroyed 370 square miles of Southwestern Washington killing 38 people.

It was called the Yacolt Burn and is the record for wildfires in our state.   It was so deadly and so disturbing to people, that it led to the beginning of the fire prevention efforts in our state.  As a result of the Yacolt Burn, the state legislature established a state fire warden system, and private landowners formed the Washington Fire Protection Association.  Shortly after, the US Forest service began to organize a wildfire suppression program.

Just like the Midwest has tornadoes and the Gulf Coast has hurricanes, wildfires on the West Coast are a normal part of the climate.   While global climate change may have played a small role in our current fire situation – to blame it for those fires gives the state an out from being responsible for maintaining our forests, cutting deadwood, clearing underbrush and funding more fire suppression services.

 

Posted in Government, History, The Real News


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