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Hog Fire of 1987 Scorches 260,000 Acres in Northern California

There are forest fires … and there are forest fires.  The Hog Fire of 1987 especially comes to mind in Northern California.  

Blazing forests are not new in the region.  Back in 1864 the Jacksonille, Ore., newspaper wrote, ”…during the past few weeks … the fires (in the Siskiyous) have been raging with increasing fury.”

Two years stand out, 1956 and 1987, as historically extreme fire years in Siskiyou County.  They accompanied a long dry period coupled with frequent lightning strikes.  Dry lightning sparked the Hog Fire of 1987, turning the tiny Scott Valley airport into a mini-city with blazing lights, helicopters, and fire-fighting aircraft zooming in and out at all hours.

In nearby Southwest Oregon that year more than 1,600 lightning strikes ignited 600 fires within a 12-hour period in August.

Mid-November rains finally snuffed out the last of the fires after some 10,000 people spent two months and hundreds of millions of dollars on fire suppression.  The Hog Fire of 1987 had scorched 260,000 acres, making it the largest and costliest fire at the time in the history of Northern California and the Klamath National Forest.  

Sources: Jenner, Gail L., and Monica J. Hall. Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams. Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2002. 130-33.  World Wide Wildlife Fund. Fire Regimes, Fire History and Forest Conditions in the Klamath Siskiyou Region: An Overview and Synthesis of Knowledge. World Wide Wildlife Fund. Ashland: Wildwood Environmental Consullting, 2000. 1-10. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.

Gail Fiorini-Jenner is a writer and teacher. Her first novel "Across the Sweet Grass Hills", won the 2002 WILLA Literary Award. She co-authored four histories with Arcadia Publishing: Western Siskiyou County: Gold & Dreams, Images of the State of Jefferson, The State of Jefferson: Then & Now, which placed in the 2008 Next Generation Awards for Nonfiction and Postcards from the State of Jefferson.