The biggest fire ever mostly occurred in the XIX – the beginning of the XX century. Although today, the fire element continues to be the most massive killer who knows no mercy. Officially, the biggest fire in the world occurred in October 1871 in Chicago, USA.
According to one of the most acceptable versions, the largest fire in history started with the fire of the O’Leary family shed. That morning, there was a strong wind and despite the measures taken, the flame quickly spread to the neighboring buildings. As a result, the fight against the worst fire in history lasted for 2 weeks and grew into a real confrontation between the residents of the city and the fiery elements. The fire that burned down to 17 thousand houses was defeated at the cost of at least 300 lives. At the same time, the consequences were even more sad, cold and famine became a murderer instead of fire, taking the lives of people who were left homeless in mass.
One of the largest wildfires occurred in the XIX century in a forest near the town of Peshtigo. In a vortex of hellfire, more than 5000 hectares of forest were destroyed in a matter of hours.
The tragedy of that autumn turned out to be much bigger than it was written in newspapers. While attention was focused on the Chicago disaster, a real disaster occurred on Lake Michigan. The world almost did not notice how the fire killed another 2500 people because of the lack of telecommunications.
No less tragic events shook Chicago again 32 years later when in 1903, about 600 people were burned alive and more than 250 were wounded at the Iroquois Theater.
The theater was opened in the same year and immediately recognized as a work of architectural art. At the same time, the fire safety rules were severely violated. The hall had only one entrance by the front stairs.
The popular musical “Drury Lane” took place on that fateful day, and despite the estimated capacity of the theater for 1602 people, tickets were purchased by 2200 spectators. The ignition started with an acetylene lamp. Almost immediately, the scenery flashed, and the protective asbestos curtain, which should fall in case of fire and separate the stage from the audience, stuck. In order not to create panic, by order of the directorate, the orchestra continued to play merry music, so everyone took the fire as part of the show. The horror began in the hall when cylinders with acetylene began to explode, and the light went out because of damage to the electricity network.
The biggest forest fire on Kalimantan Island (Indonesia) was recorded in 1982. It raged from September to July; more than 8000 square kilometers of forest area were burned, more than 36000 square kilometers in total were affected. The cause of the fire is considered to be the arson of local residents, who wanted to clear the area for agriculture. As a result, local flora and fauna were affected, and some species were on the verge of extinction.
These are several forest fires that raged in the southeast of Australia in February 1983. Within 12 hours, the strongest wind, which reached a speed of 100 km/h, spread the fire over the territory of the two states. Rescuers have registered 186 major fires. The strongest drought was a reason. The victims of the fires were 75 people, including 17 firefighters. Such a serious number of victims was caused by a sharp and unpredictable change of the fire front.
On January 4, 2013, the thermometer column reached 41.8 C in Australia. The abnormal heat has triggered the worst fire since Ash Wednesday, which covered the territory of Tasmania and became a natural disaster. The pillar of fire, according to eyewitness accounts, reached a height of 10 meters. Local residents were forced to abandon their homes and evacuate by ferries to the sea. As a result of 40 fires throughout the state destroyed 10000 hectares of forests and hundreds of structures.
On November 8, there was a fire in northern California, which is considered the deadliest in the history of the state because 42 people were killed. The flame spread quickly due to strong winds and dry weather, as a result, the fire front reached 45 thousand hectares and destroyed more than 6 thousand buildings.
Before the dramatic events of summer 2019, the largest fire in Russia was considered to be the fire of 2010. According to an independent organization Global Fire Monitoring Centre, the fire destroyed 15 million hectares of forest. A complicated fire situation recorded in Ryazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Tver, Vladimir, and other regions, was caused by abnormal heat and lack of precipitation. An emergency mode was introduced, the city was covered with smog (mostly peat bogs), which lasted from July to September.
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