Special Report

The 13 Most Destructive Wildfires in US History

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8. The Great Fire
> Total acreage estimated: 1.5 million
> Area affected: Oregon
> Date: November 1845
> Acres burned equivalent: Five times the size of Los Angeles, CA

Like most fires of that era, hot and dry summer conditions played a role in the fire. While there is not much to go off of in terms of historical accounts for this fire, the measured area affected ranks it as the biggest in the history of the state.

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7. 2008 California Wildfires
> Total acreage estimated: 1.6 million acres
> Area affected: Northern and Southern California
> Date: April to November 2008
> Acres burned equivalent: Roughly the size of Delaware

The 2008 season was considered one of the most devastating in the history of the state. Even though there were only 6,255 fires, only two-thirds as many as the year before, the damage was significantly greater. While 1 million acres burned in 2007, more than 60% that number burned in 2008.

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6. The Great Fire of 1898
> Total acreage estimated: 2.5 million
> Area affected: South Carolina, North Carolina
> Date: February 1898
> Acres burned equivalent: One half of New Jersey

A series of wildfires raged across South Carolina and North Carolina in mid February. Reports at the time indicate that 14 people were killed in the blaze, and numerous homes and sawmills were destroyed. Strong 40 mile per hour winds precipitated even more wildfires in the region.

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5. The Great Michigan Fire of 1871
> Total acreage estimated: 2.5 million acres
> Area affected: Southeastern Michigan
> Date: October 1871
> Acres burned equivalent: One third of Maryland

Some reports detail this fire as being started by lightning or even a meteor shower, a long dry summer, and the logging practices of the day contributed fuel. This blaze was fanned on by the same winds that contributed to the Great Chicago Fire and the Peshtigo Fire. The deaths from this fire are unknown but are estimated above 500.

4. The Great Fire of 1910
> Total acreage estimated: 3+ million acres
> Area affected: Idaho, Montana, Washington, and British Columbia
> Date: August=1910
> Acres burned equivalent: Half of Hawaii

This is commonly referred to as the Big Blowup or the Big Burn. This fire did not last particularly long, only two day, but it was incredibly devastating. The fire consumed entire towns in the Northwest region and contributed to the deaths of 86 people, mostly firefighters.

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