Wildfires and Climate Change - NYTimes.com
“We face the increased risk of fires almost everywhere,” said Chris Field, director of the department of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science, who is co-chairman of a working group for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Weather Extremes : The Worst Wild Fires in World History | Weather Underground
When large fires burn, they can have serious international consequences. In a sense, Dr. Field said, they are a “teachable moment,” showing the risks of climate change.
The single worst wild fire in U.S. history, in both size and fatalities, is known as the Great Peshtigo Fire which burned 3.8 million acres (5,938 square miles) and killed at least 1,500 in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan during the week of October 8-14, 1871. Many sources put the size of the fire at 1.2-1.5 million acres but that included only the area that was completely burned and not the additional 2.3 million acres in surrounding counties that also suffered burn damage (see maps below). Unattended fires at logging camps in the area most likely caused the fire. After a long hot and very dry summer strong warm autumn winds from the southwest fanned the fires out of control. Fire tornadoes were reported at several locations and the fire became so hot that people taking refuge in rivers were boiled to death.
The worst wild fire in western history and the 2nd largest overall in the United States was the Great Fire of 1910. This massive forest fire burned some 3 million acres (4,700 square miles) in Idaho and Montana beginning on August 20-21, 1910. It killed at least 87 people, mostly ill-equipped firefighters, including a single crew of 28 who were overcome by the flames near Setzer Creek outside Avery, Idaho. The worst hit town was Wallace, Idaho, of which one-third was razed.