Peshtigo Fire

Peshtigo Fire

A forest fire that was allegedly started by railroad workers who were clearing land for tracks, swept through northeast Wisconsin. Within an hour of the fire striking, the city of Peshtigo, WI was gone. A number of factors were attributed to the raging fire, including a prolonged drought and a strong storm system that fanned the flames. It is considered to be the deadliest fire in US history. Subsequently, from the devastating fires came many regulations and best-practices about land use and care.—(NOAA)

Date of event: October 8, 1871


  • 800 fatalities in Peshtigo alone; approximately 2,500 fatalities total.
  • 1.2 million acres burned

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Photo: (Credit: Ruhrfisch/US Census) The extent of the October 8, 1871 Peshtigo Fire in red.

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