2015 Okanogan-Complex Fire. Largest Fire in State History.

Playing With Fire: A Cultural History of Wildfire in Western Washington

This is part 24 in the series: Graduate Natural History Projects

When I was growing up in Western Washington summer was a glorious time. The cold weather and relentless rain would finally cease, and the warm embrace of that ever-elusive sunshine would wash over us at last. It was a time for picnics and running through sprinklers and long, endless days of adventure. I used to wish those days would last forever, and dread September, when the cold rain returned, and school resumed.

Today, I still look forward to summer adventures but with significantly more reticence than I did as a child. As the warmer months approach, I can’t seem to ignore the sinking feeling that, sooner or later, my summer fun will undoubtedly be dampened by sweltering heat, and unbearable smoke.

2015 Goodell Creek Fire from Newhalem, Washington.

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