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Many children across the U.S. are familiar with a story of Smokey Bear — that is, the story of the orphan cub found wandering near a fire line in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico in spring 1950 — but that’s not when the story actually began.

From left, Cody and Sam Rausch of Prairie City helped Smokey Bear celebrate his 75th birthday at Chester’s Thirftway in John Day on Aug. 9.

Ellaine Dunn of Long Creek helped Smokey Bear celebrate his 75th birthday at Chester’s Thirftway in John Day on Aug. 9.

Ivan Rooney of John Day helped Smokey Bear celebrate his 75th birthday at Chester's Thirftway in John Day on Aug. 9. His father Tyler Rooney i…

JourneeRain Roberts of John Day and mother Alyse helped Smokey Bear celebrate his 75th birthday at Chester's Thirftway in John Day on Aug. 9.

A wildfire, apparently ignited by an off-road motorcycle, burned about 5,000 acres of grass and sagebrush northeast of Mattawa, Wash., on July 14.

The Powerline Fire burns grass and sagebrush on southern slope of Saddle Mountains near Mattawa, Wash., on July 14.