A thick pall of smoke hangs in the air but it is dangerous and
frequently impossible to locate the direct bed of fire. What appears to be
a safe surface, may suddenly collapse and the seeker drops into a pit of
fiery ash. Few care to explore the burning regions because of the danger.
It is possible to locate and fight the fire at night when, against
the darkness, the underground fire becomes a dime red glow issuing
form crevices of the earth. In the early morning the direct bed may also
be located, for heavy dew draws the smoke. But if the fire has gone
beyond control, only heavy rains will extinguish it.
Fire destroys land more thoroughly than most forms of soil
erosion. After the flames have eaten away the precious organic matter in
the topsoil the land remains useless for years. Known by its rust color
and robbed of fertility, it can be used for nothing.
In this account there have been no lists of ferns or flowers, no
charted routes; the trees are left scattered, some named, some not; the
rivers, the canals, the waterways move slowly where they will. All that
has been attempted is to give the reader a birds-eye view of America's