Twenty years ago today, Joan Anzelmo was standing on a hill near Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, with the wind blowing past her at near gale force.
The former Boise resident and National Interagency Fire Center staffer, who now is superintendent of Colorado National Monument, was touring the park with her boss, Yellowstone Superintendent Bob Barbee. It was Black Saturday, the day 165,000 acres burned and the great Yellowstone fires of 1988 doubled in size in an afternoon.
Convection clouds created by the firestorms could be seen in all four directions, Anzelmo said.
"At that moment, it was clear that man was not going to stop these fires," Anzelmo said.
Today, the nation's entire firefighting bureaucracy recognizes the limits on stopping giant fires. Scientists also recognize the other big lesson of the 1988 fires that burned more than 1 million acres in and around Yellowstone: Fire is an essential part of the Western forest ecosystem, and without natural forest fires, brush, dead trees and other fuels build up and cause the fires to become ever more catastrophic.
Read the complete story at idahostatesman.com