Historical fiction book tells ‘Hero of the Yacolt Burn’ by author Woodland

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WOODLAND — A Woodland native has posted a fictional tale based on one of the largest recorded wildfires in Washington state, which happened 120 years ago this month.

The Yacolt Burn destroyed nearly 240,000 acres in Cowlitz, Clark and Skamania counties from September 11-13, 1902 and killed 38 people, according to a historylink.org article.

Douglas Maynard grew up hearing about the fire. He could see the scars from the burned trees near his grandparents’ house near the Lewis River Valley.

Later, as a history teacher in places like Kalama, he read the story of an unidentified man who entered the impending fire to save his neighbors.

The mysterious man inspired Maynard to write the fictional “Hero of the Yacolt Burn,” which was released last June and is available on sites like amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

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Maynard named the legendary man Thomas Merriman, describing him as a loyal, hard-working dreamer who reached the west by wagon with the Bidwell-Bartleson Party—the first wagon train to reach California.






Woodland author Douglas Maynard holds his latest piece of historical fiction ‘Hero of the Yacolt Burn’.


Douglas Maynard, contributed


Years later, Maynard writes that Merriman headed to the Yacolt Burn fire at age 79 to save his neighbors and friends.

No organized fire response existed in the area in 1902, according to the historylink.org article, allowing the fire to grow wildly and leaving at least 146 families homeless.

The following year, a state fire ranger was created in response to the blaze, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The 90,000-acre Yacolt Burn State Forest is named after the fire, according to the DNR.

Maynard said the story will highlight past regional events.

“I recommend people read the book because it’s a great story and it relates to our local history,” he said.

The 164-page article is Maynard’s second published book. He also wrote the 2016 coming-of-age novel “Three Summers: The Greatest Game.”

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