The largest wildfire in the history of Oregon was started by thunderstorms on July 13, 2002. By the time that the fire was stopped by the fall rains:
  500,000 acres of forest had been burned.
  Nearly the entire Kalmiopsis Wilderness area was destroyed.
  The direct fire suppression cost was nearly $170,000,000.
  Estimates of the losses of timber resources, watershed, fisheries, recreation, and endangered species were reaching $1,000,000,000 in 2006.

Why did this disaster develop? There are many explanations that have been put forward to explain the reasons behind the development of large wildfire losses. These explanations include:


The buildup of excessive fuel loading because of past aggressive fire suppression.

This is questionable because the Florence fire (the major component of the Biscuit Fire) started in an area heavily burned by the Silver Fire in 1987. Also, much of this forest was a temperate rain forest. High fuel densities develop naturally under these conditions. 


Logging has led to the development of the mega-fire problem.

This is questionable because the Florence Fire and most of the other initial fires were started in a Wilderness area or other areas that had never been logged. 


Initial attack personnel (Smokejumpers) were not available..

On the morning of 13 July there were 110 Smokejumpers available in the 48 contiguous states. On successive days there were between 70 and 80 Smokejumpers available at 0800 MDT. No requests were ever received at any of the Smokejumper bases. The Florence component of the Biscuit Fire was discovered by accident on 15 July. At that time there was a Smokejumper aircraft with 8 Smokejumpers on board searching for fires in the Umpqua National Forest (50 miles from the Florence Fire). The aircraft had to refuel at Medford, Oregon (30 miles). The supervisory Smokejumper contacted Southern Oregon Dispatch for further orders. The Smokejumpers were returned to their base at Redmond Oregon.


Other initial attack resources were not available.

Only one Type II fire crew was available on the Siskiyou National Forest. However, the fire danger was high and the thunderstorm activity was predicted. The Smokejumper Base at Cave Junction, Oregon was disbanded in 1981 but equipment was stored at the Illinois Valley Airport to set up a temporary base if conditions warranted. If the standard explanations do not withstand close inspection, what is the fundamental cause? 

It is the conviction of the author that the problem behind much of the mega-fire problem is a Consequence of Forest Management Decisions that began in 1785 and continue to the present time.