Thursday, June 11, 2009


The banks of the aptly named Muddy River in Boston are choked with thick stands of Phragmities, a non-native invasive reed imported from the Middle East. They die back in winter leaving a waving sea of tan 16-foot tall paper-dry tapers that can explode into flames which spread as fast as you can run, or faster. The heat, power and speed of these fires is frightening and potentially lethal. The only mushroom cloud I've ever seen, outside of history books, towered above one of these wildfires.

So far we've had none this year, that I know of, and few in recent ones. In the past there have dozens of wildfires each year. Why? We don't know. But lightning wasn't a factor, a string of them would start when the sky was cloudless and clear blue. Arson perhaps? That seems likely.