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Yellowstone Fires of 1988 – Opportunity Knocked by Clyde Seely

The Yellowstone Fires of '88

Pebble 27: “The Yellowstone fires of 1988 were becoming a real threat to the town. Few who lived here will soon forget the anxious feelings when it seemed imminent that our little town and homes were threatened.”  (Page. 276, Opportunity Knocked)

“Apparently, weather patterns were changing, and he (the Fire Commander) said to the town council “Unless the wind patterns change, we could well be defending West Yellowstone from the fires by tomorrow night.” What unnerving news.I raised my hand and said, “If we could have a sprinkler system set up between the river and town, volunteered by the farmers in Idaho, would you be interested? He said, “Yes, let’s go out in the hall and talk about it.”   And so, we did….” (Page 278, Opportunity Knocked)

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Watch: Original television footage of Clyde and his proposal to minimize the threat posed by the 1988 fires.

Farmers answer the call

“With fires lighting up the sky, we wondered if tomorrow morning would be too late. It was a short night for me as well as the farmers who, on September 2nd, began pulling their sprinkler pipe out of their fields at 5:00 and loading them onto their pipe trailers. By about 8:00 a.m. they started to arrive in West Yellowstone.” (Page 280, Opportunity Knocked)


“It was September 6th, about 11:00 p.m. when I received a call from the fire commander at Old Faithful. She said that fire was now converging on Old Faithful and asked it I could have a sprinkler system set up by 8:00 a.m. the next morning. She stated that if the fire reached the power line, there would be now power in the Old Faithful area, resulting in closing it down for the winter.” (Page 290, Opportunity Knocked)

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Clyde reminisces about the overwhelming response to his call for aid