Special Report

30 Most Destructive Wildfires in the US This Century

Source: usforestservice under Public Domain Dedication / Flickr

20. Martin
> Area burned: 435,569 acres
> State affected: Nevada
> Year: 2018
> Cause: Under investigation

The Martin Fire ignited on July 5 and tore through dry vegetation to become the largest blaze in the United States at that point in 2018,and the biggest single fire in Nevada’s history. It was not known how the blaze started. Hot, dry, and windy conditions, combined with vast amounts of dry grass — that had grown beyond normal levels because of heavy spring rains — accelerated the speed of the inferno, which burned more than 435,000 acres.

Source: Courtesy of Bureau of Land Management

19. Crazy Mountain Complex
> Area burned: 447,420 acres
> State affected: Alaska
> Year: 2009
> Cause: Unclear

The Crazy Mountain Complex of 2009 consisted of four smaller fires. Dense smoke from the infernos made it difficult for firefighters to get much needed aerial support and track the perimeter of the fire. The fire was fueled by unseasonably warm temperatures. Approximately 20 days after the complex was established, the 375 personnel assigned to the fire were able to get it under control.

Source: blmcalifornia under Public Domain Dedication / Flickr

18. Mendocino Complex
> Area burned: 459,123 acres
> State affected: California
> Year: 2018
> Cause: Accident

The Mendocino Complex Fire started in late July 2018. The blaze consisted of the River Fire and the Ranch Fire. Over 100 buildings were destroyed and thousands of fire personnel worked to contain the blaze.

Source: Courtesy of Oregon Forest Resources Institute

17. Holloway
> Area burned: 460,850 acres
> State affected: Nevada
> Year: 2012
> Cause: Lightning

From Aug. 5-25, 2012, the Holloway fire scorched nearly half a million acres of land in northern Nevada and southern Oregon. It was caused by a lightning strike about 25 miles east of Denio, Nevada. One firefighter was injured trying to contain the blaze.

Source: Courtesy of NASA, Visible Earth v1 ID: 13736

16. Rodeo/Chediski Complex
> Area burned: 468,638 acres
> State affected: Arizona
> Year: 2002
> Cause: Accident

The Rodeo Fire began on June 18, 2002, on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation near Cibecue, Arizona. Another fire ignited on Chediski Ridge, which is also on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. The fires merged on June 22, and by the time they were contained on July 7, about 469,000 acres had been burned.

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