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Peshtigo, Wisconsin, Fire

  • By: William Lang
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

The evening of October 8, 1871, brought the worst forest fires in U.S. recorded history raging through northeastern Wisconsin and upper Michigan, as well as parts of lower Michigan. In Wisconsin and upper Michigan, the fires destroyed millions of dollars worth of property and timberland, taking 1,200–2,400 lives from around the village of Peshtigo. The Peshtigo fire continues its distinction of having caused the most deaths by fire anywhere in the United States. The fire covered about 2,400 square miles, or 1.5 million acres. However, even though the Peshtigo fire took more lives and property, the fire became America's “forgotten fire” because it happened on the same date as the Great Chicago Fire. The fire was triggered by drought and storms, but poor fire management ...

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