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Today in Wildfire History: Ranger Pulaski saves crew during Great Fire of 1910

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Today in Wildfire History: Ranger Pulaski saves crew during Great Fire of 1910

On August 20th, 1910, Ranger Ed Pulaski was working with forty-five men to try to stem the advance of the Great Idaho Fire, or the Big Blowup. After a hot, dry summer, there were wildfires burning throughout the west. Ranger Pulaski and his crew were overtaken by flames as they worked to control a fire. Pulaski led the crew to an abandoned mine shaft, where he famously stationed himself at the mouth of the shaft and drew a pistol, promising to shoot the first man who tried to escape. All but five men survived the fire, which went on to burn 3 million acres.

Photo credit: Rachel C. Smith 2004 All rights reserved

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Using social media to create a record of fire history

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Using social media to create a record of fire history

A group of students at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, have put together an interesting new tool aimed at creating a richer record of local fire history. Powered by GeoLive, the website uses google maps to create a map which users can modify, clipping in newspaper articles, events, and even first hand experiences of fire events. Given some of the data issues that with fire records in California from the middle of the last century, I wonder what this sort of site could do to allow researchers to learn more about fire history from firefighters and residents?

Photo: Rachel C. Smith 2003, All rights reserved.

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Remarkable photos of the 2008 California wildfires and losses

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Remarkable photos of the 2008 California wildfires and losses

The Big Picture, which weekly collects photos from journalists worldwide gathered around a theme has several times covered wildland fire. One particularly remarkable set of photos chronicles the wildfires sweeping California during the fall of 2008. It includes moving photos of the devastation at the Oakridge mobile home park in Sylmar as well as great photos of the firefighters and firefighting planes in action.

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Vivid photos of 2009 wildfires in southern California

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Vivid photos of 2009 wildfires in southern California

The Big Picture collects some of the best photos available around a weekly theme. Several times over the last couple of years they have featured vivid wildland fire photos. One of these sets, posted in September of 2009, included incredible photos of ongoing California fires, including unbelievable satellite imagery of the smoke plume captured by NASA.

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Today in Wildfire History: 1987 Black Dragon Fire kills 200 on the way to charring 18 million acres in China and Russia

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Today in Wildfire History: 1987 Black Dragon Fire kills 200 on the way to charring 18 million acres in China and Russia

The Black Dragon fire ignited in May of 1987 in China. Driven by parched conditions and high winds, the wildfire devoured land along both sides of the Amur river, blazing along the Sino-Soviet frontier. The Chinese mobilized two armies of regular troops and thousands of forestry workers to fight the blaze, according to the New York Times. Lacking sophisticated suppression tools, most of the 60,000 Chinese fighting the fire were armed with beaters. May 7th and 8th saw the worst days of the Black Dragon fire, as 200 in the path of the blaze perished and 250 were injured. By the end of the fire siege, 3 million acres of forest land had burned in China, totaling 1/3 of the Black Dragon forest reserve.

The Russian government opted to allow the wildfire to burn unchecked on their side of the border. Though in total the fire burned some 15 million acres of Russian timber, the Russian government predicted that they would not harvest in that area for at least a century, which would allow the forest ample time to regrow.

The wildfire was only finally contained in June, after extreme wind conditions subsided. In all, 18 million acres of forested land were charred in the fire.

Photo credit: Rachel C. Smith 2004 All rights reserved

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