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1871 Peshtigo fire

1871 Peshtigo fire
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1871 Peshtigo fire

Total costsN/A
Deaths 2500

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The Peshtigo fire was a large forest fire on Oct. 8, 1871, in northeastern Wisconsin, United States, including much of the southern half of the Door Peninsula and adjacent parts of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The largest community in the affected area was Peshtigo, Wisconsin which had a population of approximately 1,700 residents. The fire burned about 1.2 million acres and is the deadliest wildfire in recorded history, with the number of deaths estimated between 1,500 and 2,500. Although the exact number of deaths is debated, mass graves [both those already exhumed and those still being discovered] in Peshtigo and the surrounding areas show that the death toll of the blaze was most likely greater than the 1889 Johnstown flood death toll of 2,200 people or more.Occurring on the same day as the more famous Great Chicago Fire, the Peshtigo fire has been largely forgotten, even though it killed far more people. In total, the Great Chicago Fire had taken one-fifth as many lives as the Peshtigo Fire. 'Everybody's heard about the Chicago fire, and that got all the publicity at the time,' said a volunteer at the Peshtigo Fire Museum, named Ruth Wiltzius, whose great-grandfather perished while trying to escape. 'Peshtigo was a backwards lumber town then -- who had ever heard of it? Chicago was the big city. Which one was going to get more attention?'Nonetheless, several cities in Michigan, including Holland and Manistee (across Lake Michigan from Peshtigo) and Port Huron (at the southern end of Lake Huron), also had major fires on the same day. These fires, along with many other fires of the nineteenth century had the same basic causes: small fires coupled with unusually dry weather.

Source: Wikipedia

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