Forest Fires have been known to unleash havoc on the environment. They have a huge number of causes but most of them are attributed to humans and their carelessness.
Some human causes of forest fires include campfires, fireworks and arson.
Today I’m going to tell you some of the largest forest fires we’ve seen in the last decade.
11 Largest Forest Fires in the World
- Australian Bushfire Season (2019-20)
- Canary Island Wildfires 2019
- Amazon Rainforest Fires (2019)
- Siberia Wildfires (2019)
- Mendocino Complex Fire (2018)
- Camp Fire (2018)
- British Columbia Wildfires (2017 and 2018)
- Attica Wildfires (2018)
- Russian Wildfires (2015 and 2018)
- Fort Mcmurray Wildfires (2016)
- Northwest Territories Wildfires (2014)
10+ Largest Forest Fires in the World
1. The Australian Bushfire season of 2019-20
The Australian Bushfire, also known as Black Summer, started in Late June 2019 and is still going on. Until 9th March 2020, the fire had burned through 18.6 million hectares of area.
This includes more than 9352+ buildings and 3500 homes. Additionally, 1 Billion animals, 34 direct and 417 indirect (smoke inhalation) human deaths have resulted due to forest fires in Australia.
2. The Canary Island Wildfires 2019
Around Mid-August of 2019, multiple fires broke out in Canary Islands with fires on Gran Canaria Islands being the most ferocious.
More than 30,000 acres of Gran Canaria islands (Artenara, Cazadores and Valleseco) got burned and thousands of people were evacuated over the month of August.
Artenara Forest Fire
The first of those forest fires broke out in Artenara on 10th August 2019 due to carelessness of a 55-year old with a welding machine. Extinguishing this fire took 15 days!
The fire was officially declared extinguished by 25th August and it took as much as 13 aircraft working regularly.
The second forest fire was relatively small which broke out a few days later on 13th of August in the town of Telde on Cazadores Island.
The cause of this Canary island fire was also human-related, the guy was a pyromaniac (A mental disorder in which a person has impulses to deliberately start fires).
The fire burned through 400 acres and was officially put out on 25th of August.
Another fire broke out in the town of Valleseco on 17th of August. This one broke out during an intense heat-wave; burned down 3400 hectares and evacuated 8000 people within a span of two days.
Even with 16 aircrafts and 700 firefighters working around the clock to extinguish the fire; strong winds and low humidity levels made it difficult.
Thankfully, weather conditions improved on 20 August (Rain) and unapproachable fires were finally put out.
By the time it was extinguished, the fire had burned through 25000 acres of land (6% of Total Island Area) making it the worst fire of Spain in last 6 years.
Cause of the Valleseco fire was faulty electrical wiring on a pylon. However, dry strong winds propagated the fire.
3. Amazon Rainforest Fires 2019
Amazon Rainforest wildfires burned more than 2 Million acres over a span of 9 months in 2019. The total number of fires are said to be more than 40,000 and economic drawbacks for putting them out are too high to be estimated.
These fires were caused by slash-and-burn; a method of clearing out lands (burning trees) for practicing agriculture, logging, mining and livestock farming.
Another reason claimed for forest fires in Amazon are climate change and global warming which brought around longer dry seasons and higher temperatures throughout 2019.
It is estimated that we’ve lost almost 2.24 Million acres (almost 1 Million acres) of Amazon Rainforest to forest fires in 2019.
Considering the fact that Amazon rainforest acts as the largest carbon sink of our planet, climate change effects after these fires will definitely be catastrophic.
4. Siberia Wildfires 2019
Siberian wildfires of 2019 started in July in poorly approachable northern areas of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Zabaykalsky Krai and Sakha Republic.
By the end of July, the fire had been reported to burn through 2,600,000 hectares (6,400,000 acres) of land.
5. Mendocino Complex Fire 2018
The Mendocino complex fire was one of the largest fires ever recorded in California history. The Mendocino complex fire was a combination of two fires; Ranch Fire and River Fire.
Ranch fire alone was the largest wildfire ever recorded in the history of California. Ranch fire was also the first of the two fires and ignited (got reported) on 27th July 2018.
Ranch fires burned through more than 400,000 acres of land in Northern California. The cause of Ranch fire will astonish you! It was caused by a man trying to plug a wasp nest with hammer and stake.
Both Ranch and River fires collectively burned a total of 459,123 acres. The fires resulted in an economic setback of $267,000 with more than 200 Grand accounting for fire suppression costs. The rest was used to cover insurance for 280 buildings destroyed in the fire.
River fire quickly came under control by 13th August whereas Ranch fire (bigger one) continued for a month after that and was finally put out on September 18th.
6. Camp Fire 2018
Even though Ranch fire of Mendocino Complex Fire was the largest wildfire, Camp Fire in November 2018 was the deadliest and most destructive recorded in history of forest fires in California.
The fire was ignited at the Camp Creek Road (hence the name) on 8th November 2018 by a fault electric transmission line.
Initially in a secluded area, wind blowing east pushed the fire towards semi-urban and urban towns. Drought was another factor which exacerbated the wildfire.
The fire burned through more than 150,000 acres and destroyed 18,804 buildings which also made it the most expensive natural disaster of 2018 due to cost of damages amounting to $16.5 Billion Dollars in insurance.
What made this fire even worse was the fact that it lead to 85 human fatalities and 17 severely injured. Camp Fire was contained only by the first winter rainstorm 17 days later on 25th November 2018.
7. British Columbia Wildfires (2017-2018)
Wildfires are common occurrence around summer season (June-July) in British Columbia, Canada. However, records as far as 1960’s were broken when wildfires of British Columbia in 2017 burned through 3 Million acres of land (three-quarters the Size of Connecticut).
Starting with a 2-hectare fire on 6th of July, 56 new wildfires were reported in different regions of British Columbia on 7th of July, thereby declaring a state of emergency in the region.
By September 12, 158 fires had burned through more than 12,000 square Kilometers. The 2017 wildfire was notable for being the largest single-fire In British Columbia and one that led to highest number of evacuations (more than 65000 people!).
The 2017 wildfire was caused by Natural (Hot lightning, dry climate) as well as Human factors (accidental and intentional).
The British Columbia wildfires of 2018 broke the records of 2017 wildfires when they burned through almost 4 Million acres (equal to Size of Wales) of forests and residential area.
By November, 2092 wildfires had occurred throughout the region, burned through almost 1.5 Million hectares of land.
Among the most notable fires of 2018 B.C wildfires were:
- Comstock Lake fire
- Tugwell Creek fire
- Shovel Fire
The Tugwell Creek fire was a major threat to millions of honeybees (A keystone species) at Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery.
Smoke from 2018 British Columbia forest fires covered skies of much of Canada and was seen as far as Ireland!
8. Attica Wildfires 2018
Attica Wildfires are considered the second-most deadly fires of the 21st Century because of their high death toll of 102 people. Most deadly fires of 21st Century were 2009 bushfires that claimed 173 lives!
A series of fiery wildfires started in July 2018 near beaches and shores of Attica (Greece) during the European Heatwave. Cause of Attica wildfire is suspected to be carelessness of a 65-year old while burning wood in his backyard.
Attica wildfires, in addition to killing so many people, damaged more than 1000 buildings.
Greece used its entire firefighting fleet of aircrafts with 250 fire trucks and more than 600 firefighters to stop the fire.
9. Russian Wildfires 2015 and 2018
In Mid-April of 2015, a string of wildfires spread across the southern region of Siberia, Russia.
The fires burned through more than 1 Million Hectares of land. Russian wildfires of 2015 was caused by farmers clearing out grasslands for practicing agriculture. The fire got fanned by the wind and quickly got out of hand.
These fires destroyed almost 1500 buildings (mostly in villages) and resulted in 33 fatalities and more than 900 people suffering from injuries.
In 2018, warm and dry conditions of early spring gave way to strong fires in Siberia. By the month of May, a greater number of fires were observed per month, than the past decade.
Total scorched area of Siberian fires in 2018 was estimated to be almost 800,000 acres.
10. Fort McMurray wildfire 2016
2016 Fort McMurray wildfires were the largest wildfires in Alberta’s history, especially in terms of people evacuated (88,000+).
Scorching through Fort McMurray, the fire destroyed more than 3000 buildings over an area of 1.5 Million acres. This made it the most expensive disaster in the history of Canada, with costs amounting almost 10 Billion dollars.
The Fort McMurray fire continued for more than a year (from 1st May 2016 to 2nd August 2017) and is suspected to be human-caused.
11. Northwest Territories Fires 2014
Northwest Territories fire season in 2014 is known to be the worst of all forest fire seasons since 1984.
These fires started in summer seasons of 2014 (July) and continued until September when the government there estimated that the fire had burned through almost 9 Million acres of Northwest Territories.
The cost of these fires (direct and indirect) is estimated to be $55 Million Canadian Dollars (or 44 Million US dollars).
A study later in 2017 suggested that a record number of lightnings could be cause for Northwestern Territories wildfires. There were ofcourse human causes as well.
Other most deadly fires in last 10 years include:
12. Rim Fire 2013
13. Richardson Backcountry Fire 2011
14. Bolivia Forest Fires 2010
15. Russian Wildfires 2010