Will History Repeat Itself? The Great Fire of 1910

The Great Fire of 1910 burned across 3 million acres and killed more than 80 people.

*This story is published under an article exchange with Pie Consulting & Engineering.

By Jon Schear

SUMMIT COUNTY — Harry Houdini was quoted as saying, “Fire has always been and seemingly, will always remain, the most terrible of elements.”

With the approach of a hot, windy summer here in Colorado, these words have never sounded more true.

In a recent interview with America’s News Radio Network, Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue deputy chief Jeff Berino alluded to the “perfect storm” conditions arising in the western region of the United States. According to Berino, who also works for Pie Consulting & Engineering as a wildfire investigator, today’s conditions are  reminiscent of the 3 million acre Big Burn of August, 1910; conditions could be ripe for another blaze of equal or greater intensity, he said.

Listen to the interview here.

Many factors contribute to the “perfect storm,” perhaps best understood as stages:

Stage 1: The Setup
A few specific things contribute to potential wildfire starts and typically involve the weather. A dry and hot climate is a major influence and is usually spurred on by early snowmelt and drought conditions (a consistent issue here in Colorado).

Without moisture in the air and soil, vegetation can dry out and die, which creates fuel for a wildfire to start. Adding to this are bark beetles, which can grow to epidemic rates in dry and hot weather, adding even more fuel in the form of dead trees. Continue reading

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