The Worst US Wildfires
The Biggest US Wildfires
As Measured By Acreage Consumed In The Blaze
October 8 – 14, 1871
More than 1,500 lives were lost and 3.8 million acres burned. The United States’ worse fire, however, is largely forgotten because it occurred at the same time as the more publicized Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on October 8 – 10, 1871. Interestingly, a similarly deadly fire occurred in Port Huron, Michigan on the same date.
Maine and New Brunswick, Canada
Named after a river in Canada, the Miramichi fire burned 3 million acres and killed 160.
Idaho and Montana
August 20 – 21, 1910
The Great Fire of 1910—also known as the Big Blow Up, or the Big Burn—ignited more than 3 million acres. It killed at least 85 people. The blaze created a firestorm that whipped up high winds which very quickly drove the fire forward.
Port Huron, Michigan
October 8 – 21, 1871
The Port Huron fire of 1871 occurred simultaneously with the Peshtigo, Wisconsin fire and the Great Chicago Fire. It destroyed more than 1,200,000 acres and killed 200.
Port Huron, Michigan
September 5, 1881
The Thumb Fire (named for Michigan’s east side thumb-shaped peninsula), burned more than 1 million acres and took 282 lives.
Yellowstone National Park
A controlled burn that got out of control ultimately destroyed 800,000 acres of Yellowstone National Park.
Multiple wildfires destroyed more than 800,000 acres and left 22 dead.
Syskiyou National Forest, Oregon
July 12 – 15, 2002
Lightening strikes burned more than 500,000 acres in the Biscuit Creek area.
June 18 – July 7, 2002
Two fires in Arizona merged to burn more than 467,066 acres.
Multiple fires burned more than 375,000 acres in Southern California.
There also have been a number of fire “epidemics,” which occurred separately in several states over a spring and summer season. The worse, perhaps, occurred during the Spring and Summer of 2000, when fire spread over seven million acres in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. A series of outbreaks in 2004 in Alaska burned more than 5 million acres. Wildfires in 2005-2006 in Oklahoma and Texas burned more