Rodeo-Chediski Not A Record-Breaker


We are not alone.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 24,421 fires burned 442,575 acres of wildlands this year, from January to early May before Rodeo-Chediski and the Colorado blazes.

In 2001, 84,079 separate fires costing $542 million to fight destroyed 3,570,911 acres of land and 731 structures.

In 2000, nearly 123,000 separate fires burned 8.5 million acres of forest. In a "normal" year, only 3.8 million acres are consumed by fire.

That same year, 25,000 acres in New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo Mountains were also charred. That fire moved so fast it burned 6,500 acres on one day, and on the next day expanded to 23,500 acres.

Still, none of these fires including our own 468,638-acre beast come close to becoming a national record-breaker in terms of destruction.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, these are the worst forest fires in the history of the United States:

1871 Oct. 8-14, Peshtigo, Wisc. More than 1,200 lives lost and 4 million acres burned in nation's worst forest fire.

1889 June 6, Seattle, Wash. Fire destroyed 64 acres of the city and killed two people. Damage was estimated at $15 million.

1894 Sept. 1, Minn. Forest fires ravaged more than 160,000 acres and destroyed six towns, killing 600, including 413 in town of Hinckley.

1910 Aug. 10, Idaho. Fires burned 2 million acres of woods and killed more than 70 people.

1918 Oct. 13-15, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Forest fire struck towns in both states; 1,000 died, including 400 in town of Cloquet, Minn. About $1 million in losses.

1947 Oct. 25-27, Maine. Forest fire destroyed part of Bar Harbor and damaged Acadia National Park.

1956 Nov. 25, California. Fire destroyed 40,000 acres in Cleveland National Forest and caused 11 deaths.

1988 Aug.-Sept., western U.S. Fires destroyed more than 1.2 million acres in Yellowstone National Park and damaged Alaska woodlands.

1991 Oct. 20-23, OaklandBerkeley, California. Brush fire in drought-stricken area destroyed more than 3,000 homes and apartments. At least 24 people died; damage estimated at $1.5 billion.

2000 April-May, northern N.M. Fire started by National Park Service to clear brush from Bandelier National Monument raged out of control, destroying at least 250 homes and forcing evacuation of more than 20,000 people. Blaze consumed an estimated 47,000 acres and threatened Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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