Yellowstone Fires

This passage discusses the destructive fires in Yellowstone National Park in 1988.

Lexile Level: 600L

Categories: People & Places Animals & Nature


Each year, lightning starts about 24 fires in Yellowstone National Park. The wildfires are usually small. Most wildfires burn less than 100 acres. These small wildfires are allowed to burn. They clean the forest floor. This helps new plants and trees to grow. In 1988, rainfall in April and May was higher than normal in the park. No one thought that summer would be the worst fire season in 125 years. Despite a lot of spring rain, the park was very dry by June. The park was in a drought. Once started, strong winds helped wildfires sweep the park. Thousands of firefighters came from all over the world to help. It didn't seem to matter. The flames were unstoppable. Many areas of the park had to close. Sadly, the wildfires didn't stop until September. In total, about a third of the park (793,000 acres) was destroyed. Today scientists are still studying the effects the fires had on the park.


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