Wednesday, July 3

The Tillamook Burn

"The Tillamook Burn" is a name for four forest fires that happened in Tillamook Oregon.  One event in the burn happened in 1933.

As the current wikipedia page puts it:

"On the 24th, the humidity dropped rapidly to 26 per cent and hot gale-force winds from the east sprang up. During the next 20 hours of August 24th and 25th the fire burned over an additional 420 square miles, or at a rate of 21 square miles per hour along a 15-mile front. The fire was stopped only by the fact that the wind ceased and a thick, wet blanket of fog drifted in from the ocean."

We grew up not too far from there, and Dad would occasionally take us out to see "Tillamook". He'd talk to the locals and see what stories they had to tell about it.

One recurring theme that interested him was how on that day trees were thrown out into the ocean.

Wikipedia does not record this detail, and i have not been able to find any google hits that mention the trees being thrown into the water. But what I do read in the wikipedia seems consistent with that kind of information. "hot gale-force winds from the east sprang up".

The way Dad told it, these winds were a consequence of the fire. Hot air rises, and when it gets hot enough, it rises quickly. This particular forest fire had managed to get hot enough to create its own gale force wind.

Normally, winds blow in off the ocean and are stopped by the Coast Range (the minor mountains which start near the Oregon beaches). And, reading the wikipedia, the normal winds off the ocean played a role in dampening this fire back down.

Oregon has a lot of trees, and in Dad's opinion understanding something about forest fires, and how people deal with them, was something that everyone ought to know, living there.

Apparently, forests have had forest fires throughout the ages. Typically, forest fires would not go very far before dying out. However, because of property damage risks, we prevent forest fires and put them out as soon as we spot them. We do not, on a systematic basis, address the issues which make forest fires likely in the first place. But clear cut logging probably does, in some sense, prevent forest fires. Meanwhile, some people risk their lives to deal with these things and there does not seem to be any better option for them.

We (our family) would also go and see locations where Oregon has "the world's largest" tree, of various species of trees. And, Dad would talk about recent historical records of trees that used to stand not too far from there (up near British Columbia) which were much bigger than any of the current world records. Apparently, other places in the world had long since cut down their large trees. (Also, probably, the part of the world which oregon is a part of was just better for large trees than other locations?)

I needed to mention Dad here, because he was a primary source of my information. I might have conveyed the impression here that Dad was obsessed about trees - but that's mostly because I have made the decision to not talk about a number of other topics which I think would be related, if I were talking about Dad.

No comments:

Post a Comment