Sunday 25 June 2017

Forest fires

This month’s forest fires in Portugal, which killed 64 people, were the worst in the country’s history. Most of the deaths happened in Pedrógão Grande in the centre of the country when flames swept across a road filled with people trying to escape in their cars.

More than 1,700 Portuguese firefighters fought the blaze along with others from Spain, Morocco, Italy and Canada. Although most reports point to a thunderstorm as the cause, there have been some claims that it was arson.

Probably the deadliest forest fire ever happened in the USA, in Wisconsin on 8 October 1871. It began in the woods after a long dry spell, but was carried on the wind to Peshtigo and other nearby lumber towns on the banks of Lake Michigan, where the sawdust that always clogged the streets provided convenient fuel for the flames.

Peshtigo was burned to the ground, and more than 1,150 people were killed, but because it happened on the very same night as the Great Chicago Fire, it has tended to be rather forgotten.

For the full story, see A Disastrous History of the World. See also my posts of 7 February 2009, 3 July 2013, and 7 May 2016. 

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