Monday, September 8, 2008

The Tillamook Burn

The story The Fire-Bringer tells is fictional, but playwright GeBauer admits that the Tillamook Burn on the northern Oregon coast in the 1930s and 40s was an inspiration.

“I used to live in Oregon,” she said, “and my husband and I used to drive through Tillamook. That forest hadn’t grown back. The hills were still bare. Those fires redefined Tillamook at that time. Lots of men were out of work during the Depression, and they arrived in droves because they could get room and board in exchange for fighting the fire.”

The first fire burned more than 300,000 acres of 400 year-old Douglas fir in August and September of 1933. There was another major fire there in 1939 and again in 1945, when several fires combined to lay waste to mountain forests between Portland and the ocean beaches on the Oregon coast. The devastation from these fires was visible well into the 1970s.

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