Forest Fires


Connor McKee-Sargent

STOP THE FOREST FIRES! Campfires may be a fun summer activity but if they are left unsupervised and go against existing burn bans then they can cause disaster. Along with campfires being a danger to forests, people leaving their cigarette buds still burning on the forest floor during the hot, dry months of the summer can lead to the forest catching on fire.

Lea Tucker, Staff Writer

The past few summers in Washington, along with the rest of the West Coast, have been filled with warm weather and sunshine. However, this warm weather has been a contributing factor to the forest fires that have plagued the area in the month of August. The west coast appears to be getting hit by climate change harder than the rest of the country. While there are fires in the Midwest and East Coast, they are nowhere near as damaging as the fires that plague the west. Another reason for this is that droughts are much more frequent on the West Coast and because of that, many trees are dying. Dead trees burn easier and faster than trees that are alive and healthy. These fires are plaguing the West and causing detrimental smoke that causes health issues for people of all ages. Children are unable to participate in sports because of the air quality and people with lung issues or other health impairments can sometimes even not be allowed outside due to their health. There are many things that people can do to help prevent these fires. Words just need to be put into actions.

The simple definition of a campfire is a fire that provides light and warmth, and heat for cooking. Another use of a fire is as a beacon to alert people of a location. Campfires have been around as long as fire was discovered and have always had many different uses. All of the people that were interviewed said that they enjoy campfires. Freshman Mimi Takemura said that her favorite place to have a campfire is by a lake, and senior Alexander Bogobowicz said that his favorite place is in the forest. Junior Kamryn Buyco said that she likes to have campfires because she enjoys being with her friends and making smores. While all of these people liked campfires, they also said that they were sure to have fires in a safe environment. All of the people asked said that they are sure to put out their fires thoroughly and that they follow the basic rules of having a campfire. They all also supported burn bans in the hot and dry months of the summer where fires tend to occur most. While only around half of the people I interviewed have been properly taught how to make a campfire, everyone agreed that there should be someone there that knows how to create a fire and also how to put it out correctly. Takemura, for example, said that even though she does not know how to make a fire herself, her family does so they are able to aid her in constructing and lighting one. Smoking in forests and leaving cigarette buds on the ground is also another large cause of fires. People carelessly litter and then the still burning cigarette lights brush and leaves on fire, causing a catastrophic event. All people interviewed also agreed that there should be a ban on smoking in forests due to the fires that it can cause.

The fires over the summer caused a lot of problems for many people. People that had lung issues were forced to stay inside and a lot of usual summer activities had to be postponed or cancelled due to the horrible air quality. All of the people that were interviewed agreed that these fires affected their summer plans in one way or another. Takemura said that these fires made it so that she was unable to play soccer for a few weeks in the summer and freshman Jaxon Bates said that the fires forced him to stay inside instead of going out to enjoy the warm weather. Preventing these fires seems to be extremely important for this upcoming summer. There are many different ways to help in preventing these fires such as respecting the burn ban and not smoking in forests. Bogobowicz said that he would promote fire safety more avidly in a public setting to help reduce the risk of fires and senior Sunny Lee said that “she would simply respect the burn ban. Lee also commented that even her swim practices were cancelled for two weeks and that the sky appeared very sad as it was filled with dreary smog.” The government can also aid in helping with the fires. People often wonder what they can do, so when asked most people said that the government can send aid to help in putting out the fires in places that are especially devastated by the uncontrolled burning. Buyco also said that she thought the government could focus more on these issues, such as climate change.

Climate change has been a topic of controversy in our country for a long time now. Some people choose to not believe in it, while others think it deserves the utmost importance, viewing it as something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. There are also a lot of people in between these two extremes that think that it is real and currently happening but choose not to do anything about it, thinking that someone else will be able to fix the problem. A lot of the people interviewed agreed that climate change did have a part in the many fires that scorched the West Coast this past summer. Buyco also added that “the reason the fires kept occurring mostly in August was because it is the hottest time of the year because climate change has been warming the earth.” She also thinks that the fires will continue because the earth will only continue to get hotter in future years. Lee also added that the fires occur due to the fact that it is the driest time of the year and if people keep leaving fires unattended they are just going to keep happening.

These fires are continuing to plague the Northwest year after year. While campfires are a fun summer activity, people need to be more aware of their fires and follow the burn bans and other fire policies during the hotter months. This is going to allow people to truly enjoy the months of August without being stopped by the terrible smoky air.