They called it The Great Fire. It was started by lightening on August 20th, with 2,000 fires already burning in the forests of Idaho and Montana. Three million acres burned, as did the towns of Avery, Falcon and Grand Forks Idaho, De Borgia, Haugan, Henderson, Saltese, Taft and Tuscor, Montana. The smoke was seen as far away as Watertown, New York. Eighty-six humans were also killed, including 28 members of “The Lost Crew” of firefighters.
British and American statistical studies have come to the conclusion that the fire season has gotten longer by 78 days since the 1970’s. Anthony Westerling of the Scrips Institution summed up the situation this way; “With the snowmelt coming out a month earlier, areas then get drier earlier overall...There's more opportunity for ignition.” Says Thomas Swetnam, of the University of Arizona has pointed out that, “Lots of people think climate change and the ecological responses are 50 to 100 years away. But...it's happening now…”
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