The deadliest and most land burned in forest fires in the United States happened in 1871. It was a very hot dry time for our country, particularly the Midwest.
The deadliest fire was the Great Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin, where I am from. More than 2,000 people died in that fire that consumed hundreds of square miles. Huge areas of Michigan were burned at the same time. This was also the year of the Great Chicago Fire when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern, so the story goes.
Forest management matters. Forest fires are natural events and are healthy for forests. Yale Environment recommends controlled burns for forest health. If brush and deadwood are not cleared regularly and prescribed burns aren’t used, there are huge fires from time to time.
California does a terrible job at this. They are operating under the “let’s have nature take care of it”. Then they suffer the consequences. Huge fires! The Federal government also does a poor job of managing forests.
Stanford praises American Indian traditional practices of prescribed burns and recommends they be brought back to help California have healthier forests and less out-of-control huge fires. If only the “green” politicians could get this concept.
SC, WI, TX, AZ, and ID do a good job of managing forests on public and private lands. They rarely, if ever, have out-of-control fires. Other states that do a good job too.
Then there are some states like CA, usually under the guise of green theology ,that let them go “natural.” And our Federal Government, which is the owner of the most land in the dry west, is awful. If they aren’t managed, brush and deadwood accumulate, causing huge fires.
You get the message. Forest management matters.