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Fire History in Oregon...
"The earth, born in fire, baptized by lightning, since before life's beginning, has been and is a fire planet." - fire ecologist E.V. Komarek
lightning, photo courtesy of National Interagency Fire Center Fire has always been a part of Oregon's forests. For as long as trees have been growing here, lightning has been a regular visitor to our summer skies. Historically, lightning was the main cause of forest fires in most areas, and it is still an important factor.

When the first humans arrived, they brought more fire with them. Native Americans used fire as a tool - to herd game, to stimulate the growth of certain plants, to create clearings around villages, and for many other reasons.

Some of Oregon's forests did not burn very often. Those closest to the ocean only burned every few hundred years. Coast Range fires often grew to an enormous size and burned intensely, destroying most of the trees in their path. The Tillamook burn of 1933 is one famous example, but there were several larger and even more destructive fires in the 1800s. Most recent fires in this part of the state have been human-caused.
Pine-dominated forests east of the Cascades and in southwestern Oregon are a different story. Fire occurred more frequently, thanks to a drier climate and more lightning. Many forests in these areas burned every 25 years or so, and some more often than that. However, fires in these forests were generally much less severe, killing shrubs and seedlings but leaving most of the larger trees. Older ponderosa pine trees commonly survived many such fires over their lifetimes - and they have the scars to prove it! fire-scarred Ponderosa pine