40th anniversary of fire on Cuyahoga River





Monday is the 40th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969, when oil-soaked debris floating on the river’s surface was ignited, most likely by sparks from a passing train.

The fire was extinguished in 30 minutes and caused just $50,000 in damage. But it became a galvanizing symbol for the environmental movement, one of a handful of disasters that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and to the passage of the Clean Water Act.

“The Cuyahoga River fire was a spark plug for environmental reforms around the country,” said Cameron Davis, who was recently appointed to become the special adviser to the E.P.A. on Great Lakes environmental issues.


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