Black SaturdayAug. 20, 1910: Scorching three million acres of forest in Idaho and Montana, “The Big Burn” claims 86 lives and is one of the biggest wildfires in U.S. history.

Aug. 20, 1988: Yellowstone National Park’s “Summer of Fire” marks Black Saturday (at right), as the fires rapidly expand. Drivers in and near the park must use headlights to see through the thickening smoke. Four months of fires scorch 36 percent of the park’s area.

Aug. 20, 2003: The Monsanto and Solutia Corporations settle a lawsuit for $700 million for pollution to neighborhoods in Anniston, Alabama. Forty percent of the settlement is set aside for attorney’s fees for famous lawyer Johnnie Cochran and others.

Aug. 20, 2012:  Amidst the worst drought in decades, plummeting water levels in the Mississippi River forced the closure of an 11-mile stretch near Greenville, Miss.  Over 100 commercial ships and barges were stranded.

Photo: National Park Service/Wikimedia Commons

This feature is compiled by Peter Dykstra, an MNN contributor and publisher of Environmental Health News and The Daily Climate.