Before we moved to Connecticut on the far east coast of the United States, I lived for fifty years in Oregon on the far west coast of the United States. I grew up near the Pacific Ocean and now live near the Atlantic Ocean. Oregon’s main industries when I was a child were logging and fishing. Oregon throughout the Cascade Mountains, one third of the way east from the ocean, was heavily forested and provided many opportunities for logging and operating lumber mills. Eventually logging mostly died out and the forests remained, most designated as National Forests, places for camping, hiking and fishing for a majority of western Oregonians. (The eastern two thirds of Oregon are dry, sparsely forested, ideal ranching land.) The Willamette River valley, that land west of the mountains and thus west of the forests, houses most Oregonians, in towns small and large, rural, suburban and urban.
I am providing this background, needed for readers outside the United States, as a prelude to my post tomorrow on the effects of the massive fires now raging over 1500 square miles of Oregon. Often when people think of forest fires and their impact they imagine people building in the woods, heedless of the danger. While that is true in some places, it definitely is not the case in Oregon at the moment.
Right now towns and suburbs involving nearly 500,000 people have been evacuated as the fires burn uncontained.