Ten Things About the Yellowstone National Park Fires of 1988

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Between June and September of 1988, Yellowstone National Park was ravaged by an historic fire. The effects are still visible today. Here are some facts about the fires of 1988.

1.) It took crews of 25,000 people, including military personnel, to try and control the raging fires in the park. The highest number of firefighters at one single time numbered 10,000. It was the largest cooperative effort to fight fire to date in the United States.

2.) More than 120 million dollars were spent fighting the fires. Ultimately, the rains and snows of September that year brought an end to the conflagration.

3.) At the end of the fires, 36 percent of the park's acreage was affected by fire: 793,880 acres were burned. More than half of the acres in Yellowstone that burned were the result of fires which began outside of the park.

4.) August 20, 1988 was called “Black Saturday” due to the amount of smoke (which made the daytime “black as night”) and acreage burned that day.

5.) Between June and August, there were approximately 750 fires that threatened the park system. Ultimately, only seven of these were responsible for 95 percent of the burned and damaged areas within Yellowstone.

6.) The largest fire of all during the season was the North Fork fire, which began July 22nd after a timberman dropped his cigarette while working. Other major fires of the 1988 Yellowstone Fires were the Snake River Complex fire, the Red fire, the Mink fire, the Huck fire, the Mist fire, the Storm Creek fire, and the Hellroaring fire.

7.)The fires in September came very close to the Old Faithful Lodge. While the historic lodge was ultimately spared, fires near the structure were so hot that vehicles near the buildings and the fire had tires that melted, windshields that shattered, and scorched body paint.

8.) The fires were not formally declared as “out” until November 18, 1988.

9.) There were 72,000 wildfires in the U.S. overall in 1988.

10.) Other major events of 1988 include the initiation of perestroika under Mikhail Gorbachev in the U.S.S.R; The Phantom of the Opera opening on Broadway; Anthony Kennedy named as justice to the Supreme Court of the United States; the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; The Soviet Union collapse in February; Oliver North and John Poindexter indicted regarding the Iran-Contra affair; the hijacking of Kuwait Airlines flight 422 occurred in April, the U.S. presidential election between Dukakis-Bentsen and Bush-Quayle; Al-Qaeda forms in August, led by Osama Bin-Laden; the Iraq-Iran war ends; the Summer Olympics are held in Seoul, South Korea; the Morris Worm (the first Internet worm) is launched from MIT in November; Benazir Bhutto is sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan in December; Pan Am Flight 103 is blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland. The top four television programs by ratings in the fall of 1988 were The Cosby Show, Roseanne, A Different World, and Cheers.

Sources: Wikipedia (the fires; 1988); National Park Service

 

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