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It's hard to see Hurricane Maria through all this smoke

September 20, 2017
by Ken Fisher and Bruce Westerman

Earlier this month, standing on a hill overlooking the Columbia River that runs between Oregon and Washington state, the view was stunning as always. But not in the usual way. The swiftly flowing water was barely visible through the thick smoke of the Eagle Creek Fire then decimating 30,000 acres. Ash floated in the air like gray snow.

As Americans monitor television reports and text alerts on Hurricane Maria, there's little attention for the fires across the West that have spread the heart-racing scent of fire across 10 states. Today it feels like that smell permeates our home region more than ever in our lifetimes. It’s getting much worse. Most shouldn’t have happened.

While headlines screamed of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma ravaging coastal states, more than 8 million Western acres have been torched, leaving behind billions of dollars in economic damage. It doesn't have to be this way.

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