Summer 1988: When Yellowstone Was Nearly Consumed By Wildfires
It's hard to believe that this summer is the 32nd anniversary of the wildfire that nearly consumed Yellowstone National Park. I remember that summer of 1988 like it was yesterday.
One of the reasons I remember the Yellowstone wildfire of 1988 is my wife is a meteorologist and the huge blazes in Yellowstone that summer started with lightning strikes. The National Park Service documents the fire and counted 18 lightning strikes that started it all. 42 lightning fires in total would happen that summer in the park.
The first fire in Yellowstone that summer began on June 14 with the start of the Storm Creek fire according to the NPS site. That was followed by the Shoshone Fire, Fan Fire, Red Fire and Lava Fire into early July.
The National Park Service remembers that it was July 21, 1988 when they began fighting the fires including the 2nd time ever that US Army active duty troops were deployed on US soil.
August 20 is remembered as Black Saturday when the Yellowstone wildfire size doubled to 480,000 acres on the NPS timeline.
The most iconic moment I recall from the Yellowstone wildfires of 1988 happened in September when I recall the fires closing in on the Old Faithful part of the park including the Inn. The fact that it was saved and no one was injured is something I still consider a miracle.
The most shocking part of the 1988 fires is that they were actually a natural part of Yellowstone and helped growth in the park as NASA mentions in their 30 year time-lapse.
Last summer when my family visited Yellowstone again, we drove through the part of the park where you can still see the remnants of charred trees from that summer. Hard to believe it's still that way 32 years later.