The Worst Wildfires in US History Historical Events
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The Worst Wildfires in US History

Wiping out millions of acres of land and killing hundreds, the worst wildfires in US history are some of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the country. Though not all were caused by natural means, with some set by arsonists or created by abandoned campfires, each devastated large areas of land, wiped out buildings, and caused fatalities. What are the most major wildfires and major forest fires in the history of America? Read on to find out more!

Though modern times have seen large fires, especially in California and Texas in the past few years, the worst fires ever seen in the United States took place over 100 years ago. The deadliest, the 1871 Peshtigo Fire, claimed 2,500 lives while the largest was the Great Fire of 1910, burning three million acres of land.

As shown in these famous wildfires, many if not all incidents of tragedy, wildfires are very dangerous and can claim lives just like the worst tornadoes ever. Fortunately, as the old slogan states, forest fires can be prevented. What are the worst wildfires in history? Take a look at this list of wildfires and you'll find out for yourself.

If you're curious about things like the biggest fire in history and other kinds of natural disasters, check out more lists like Worst Earthquakes of All TimeMost Devastating Global Famines and Droughts, Most Shocking Tornadoes.

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    1871 Peshtigo Fire

    Killing as many of 2,500 people, the 1871 Peshtigo Fire is believed to be the deadliest fire in United States history. The fire took place on October 8, 1871, in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, burning 1.2 million acres of land.

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    Great Fire of 1910

    Believed to be the largest fire in U.S. history, the Great Fire of 1910 burned over two days from August 21 and August 21, 1910, in the states of Washington, Idaho and Montana. An estimated three million acres of land were burned by the blaze and 87 people were killed.

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    1825 Miramichi Fire

    Mainly affecting New Brunswick, Canada, the Great Miramichi Fire took place in October 1825 and wiped out roughly 20% of New Brunswick's forests as well as affected the state of Maine. Three million acres of land were burned and an estimated 160 people perished in the fire, which was believed to have been caused by heat.

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    2004 Taylor Complex Fire

    The Taylor Complex Fire was part of a record-breaking 2004 fire season in Alaska that burned a combined 6.6 million acres. This fire accounted for 1.3 million acres alone, making it the single largest wildfire in the United States during the period of 1997 to 2007.

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    Summer 2008 California Wildfires

    Burning land in Northern and Central California, the Summer 2008 California Wildfires included over 2,780 individual fires that occurred between May 22 and August 29, 2008. Killing 23 people and destroying over 1.15 million acres of land, the fires were believed to be caused by a combination of lightning and heat.

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    1865 Silverton Fire

    Wiping out roughly one million acres of timber, the 1865 Silverton Fire was the worst to hit the state of Oregon. Few details of the incident are known, including the exact dates and number of fatalities.

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    The Great Michigan Fire

    Also called the Thumb Fire, The Great Michigan Fire was actually a series of fires in the state that claimed an estimated 200 lives in 1871. The fires started on October 8, 1871, the same time as the Great Chicago Fire and the Peshtigo Fire, and went on to wipe out one million acres of land.

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    Yellowstone Fires of 1988

    Caused from a number of smaller fires that burned out of control, the Yellowstone Fires of 1988 shut down the national part completely for several months and destroyed 793,880 acres or roughly 36% of the park. Over 9,000 firefighters attempted to control the blaze but the effort was a losing one with the fire allowed to burn out. It eventually was ended by a snowstorm that hit the area.

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    Murphy Complex Fire

    Spreading through the states of Idaho and Nevada, the Murphy Complex Fire burned an estimated 653,000 acres of land in 2007. The same area was subject to another fire, which spread into Mexico, in June 2011.

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    Wallow Fire

    Burning from May 29, 2011, to July 8, 2011, the Walloe Fire was named after the Bear Wallow Wilderness, where the blaze in Arizona and New Mexico started. Over 538,000 acres of land, 72 buildings and 16 people perished as a result of the fire, which was believed to have been started by an abandoned campfire.

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