In Memoriam

Tom Zbyszewski, 20
Andrew Zajac, 26
Richard Wheeler, 31

The three U.S. Forest Service workers are the most recent tragic losses -- 13 to date -- amongst the "firefighters killed across the West this year during one of the driest and most explosive wildfire seasons on record." (Associated Press) Four other men were injured, one critically, in the Methow Valley fire, one of several major wildfires burning in eastern Washington state. The brief slide show here makes clear the danger the firefighters are facing.

Yesterday, centers opened in two towns to interview citizen volunteers who want to help fight the fires -- the first time this has ever happened in Washington. National Guard personnel are already among the firefighters, and Army personnel are training to join them. Firefighters from other countries, including Australia and New Zealand, have also flown in to help.

In a recent interview on KUOW public radio, Peter Goldmark, Washington state public lands commissioner, said that "...this season is worse than last year. The fires are bigger and more spread out, encroaching on large and small communities - Chelan, Twisp, Spokane, Omak, Walla Walla." The KUOW report noted that "Most fires across the West have been triggered by lightning strikes that are hitting forests turned bone dry by years of drought." One million acres have burned along the western coast of the United States.

July was Earth's warmest month on record, said officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Nine of the hottest months on record have happened since 2005, according to NOAA.

What kind of world will our grandchildren inherit?

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