Massive 1898 Fire In Colorado

The Democratic governor of Colorado has been running around today telling people that the fires this year are the worst in the state’s history. Apparently he doesn’t know much about the state’s history. The 1898 fires were much larger than what we have seen in 2012.

Fires happen. If you build a house in the pine forest without a wide fire break, sooner or later the fire will come and burn your house down. Fire is an essential part of the forest cycle, and 100 years of fire suppression has left the forests primed for very hot crown fires.

The Deseret News – Google News Archive Search

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4 Responses to Massive 1898 Fire In Colorado

  1. David says:

    1871 1,200–2,500 dead Peshtigo Fire, Wisconsin United States October 8, 1871 3.8 million acres burned

    1871 Port Huron, Michigan
    The Port Huron fire of 1871 It destroyed more than 1,200,000 acres and killed 200.

    • Jason Calley says:

      @ David

      As you probably know, the two fires you listed both happened on the same day — as did also the Great Chicago fire. Three of the largest fires in US history all on the same day, and similar (though not so catastrophic) other fires scattered around seven states and Canada. Granted, weather conditions were well suited for fires that week, but how very odd to have such huge fires all break out at once over such a large area. It is mysterious.

  2. gary says:

    Noting that the Los Angeles Times headlined it (Front Page Lead Story) today, as “Fire Season Worst Ever in Colo.”
    Then, managed to find the largest fire in Co’s history as the:

    “In summer 2002, the state’s largest-ever blaze thwarted efforts to control it and marched ominously toward Denver with a fire front 20 miles long and 14 miles wide.”

    Now – 20 mi X’s 14 mi equates to 179,200 acres.

    In the moment that would be many times the size of the largest fire currently burning in CO, would it not? So, even at that level – how’s this the worst season ever?

    I did see one blog post claiming the 1898 fire covered 1.2 million acres.

    It would be very helpful to find the historical stats here, on both the 2002 and the 1898 fires.

    i’ll press the LAT’s for a correction. On both claims, if possible.


  3. The 2002 Hayman fire was started ( by a jilted USFS ranger ) 25km west of here before I had moved from Manhattan . This is the first extremely dry and hot summer I’ve seen . The old grass is crispy . Reminds me of my impressions from climbing trips here ~1970 .

    2007 ( ( note bogged 4WD near gate ) ) and 2010 were very wet for the region .

    We are in the “pre-evacuation” area of northern Teller County but the Waldo Canyon fire appears to now be pretty well contained and the weather has “broken” .

    The scars of these fires last decades .. I cannot believe the 10s of thousands of hectares could not be restored to its role gobbling up CO2 more quickly with aerial seeding or some such .

    I really would like to know what the best practices and experience of private forestry companies like Weyerhaeuser or GP in prevention , quenching , and mitigation are . I cannot imagine that a profit driven owner would allow such catastrophic destruction and idleness of assets to continue into this century .

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