List: Worst fires in US history

Posted at 11:49 AM, Aug 17, 2016

Southern California is being hit by a major wildfire that has forced more than 80,000 people to evacuate.

Wildfires have become an annual concern for California as the state continues to be in the midst of a major multi-year drought

California is not the only place that has been hit by major fires. Places from coast-to-coast in the United States have been susceptible to massive fires.

Here are some of the largest recorded fires in U.S. history. 

The Great Fires of 1871

Many people are familiar with the Great Chicago Fire, which devastated one of the nation’s largest cities.

The fire killed about 300 people and brought down 17,000 structures from October 8-10, 1871, according to More than 100,000 residents were forced to flee their homes. 

But the Great Chicago Fire was not even the most deadly fire for that day. The Peshtigo started on October 8, 1871 and killed 1,200, according to, though some other sites claim the death toll was much greater

A rumor emerged that the Great Chicago Fire started because a cow kicked over a lantern in a barn, but the story has never been confirmed.

Oakland Firestorm of 1991

The fire began as a small grass fire in Berkeley Hills, California but would go on to consume 1,500 acres and consume 3,000 homes, apartments and condos, according to San Francisco-based KPIX.

The fire killed 25 people. 

Here is video of the coverage of the fire. 


Great Fire of 1910 “Big Blowup”

Hurricane-force winds hit the Northwest in mid-August and helped spread a massive fire that scorched 3 million acres in Idaho, Montana and Washington.

The fire led the U.S. Forest Service to start fighting all wildfires instead of only those deemed to be a threat to people or property. 

Miramichi Fire of 1825

The Miramichi fire started in New Brunswick, Canada, but quickly spread to portions of Maine.

The fire started on Oct. 7, 1825, according to the Maine Genealogical Society.

The fire burned about 3 million acres and killed about 300 people while destroying 600 buildings.

The people of the Miramichi area remembered the day for many years by not eating for a day and closed all shops, according to the Maine Genealogical Society.

Yellowstone’s “Summer of Fire” in 1988

No one died in the fire, but the fire marked the largest in the history of Yellowstone National Park.

The fire was hot enough to sustain its own wind system, according to

The fire burned more than 30 percent of the total acreage of the park and more than 1.2 million acres in total. More than 25,000 firefighters came to the scene, according to the Yellowstone National Park web site. 

California’s Cedar Fire of 2003 

A hunter got lost in the woods and set a fire to keep warm, according to But the fire grew out of control on Oct. 25, 2003. 

The fire burned more than 273,000 acres in San Diego County and destroyed more than 2,000 homes in the region.

The fire killed 15 people.

2004 Taylor Complex Fire

On August 18, 2004, Alaska set a record for acres burned by wildfires in the summer of 2004 with more than 5 million acres of burnt ground, according to

The fire did limited damage to homes or buildings, but scorched a lot of acres.