The Deadliest Fires In Canadian History

In the world, Canada is responsible for 10% of all forest fires. The Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia, in particular, endure more wildfires than other regions of the nation.

British Columbia saw 1,298,454 hectares of forest fire damage in 2018, compared to California’s 766,439 forest fire damage.

In contrast to California, where significant loss of life and property devastation have been reported in recent years, wildfires in Canada rarely threaten human settlements, leading to little loss of life and property destruction.

There are city and residential fires all around the country. Still, a well-developed fire suppression infrastructure ensures that these fires are put out before they cause a substantial number of casualties. Below is a discussion of the deadliest fires in Canadian history.

History’s three deadliest fires in Canada

Mathematics Fire

Iroquois Falls and Black River-Matheson in Ontario were devastated by the Matheson Fire on July 29, 1916. Farmers and settlers frequently burned bushes to clear land, but that particular summer was hot and dry with little rain, making the plants burn quickly.

Intentionally started fires converged into a single conflagration that swiftly outnumbered firefighters. The Iroquois Falls, Porquis Junction, Ramore, Nushka, Matheson, and Kelse settlements were destroyed by the 40-mile-long fire in just one day.

In Cochrane, a different fire started, and hundreds of people were trapped between them within hours. Although most people were able to flee, the fire claimed 223 lives.

1825 Fire in Miramichi

In northern New Brunswick, a forest fire called the Great Miramichi Fire engulfed nearby towns and woodlands in October 1825. In addition, the fire destroyed one-third of the residential buildings in Fredericton.

The summer was sweltering, and there were numerous little wildfires. A firestorm that rushed through Newcastle on October 7, 1825, destroyed the town in three hours.

Nearby towns suffered similar devastation. According to official estimates, there were between 160 and 300 casualties, including detainees at the jail in Newcastle.

Porcupine Fire, Great

The Ontario Northlands was devastated by the Great Porcupine Fire, a forest fire, in 1911. A string of minor fires that broke out in the wake of a sweltering and dry summer caused the firestorm.

Over 200,000 hectares were burned during the 22-mile-long, horseshoe-shaped fire. Initial reports claimed that more than 1,000 people had been killed, although local authorities later estimated 73 to 200.

Most fatalities were due to mine suffocation or drowning while attempting to find safety at Porcupine Lake.

History’s most significant fires in Canada

The 2014 Northwest Territories fires were the largest fire in the area ever recorded in Canada. Despite burning across 3,400,000 ha of forest, the firestorms did not cause any fatalities.

The 1950 Chinchaga fire, the largest single fire in North America to date, consumed 1,700,000 hectares of forest in Northern British Columbia and Alberta.

The 2017 British Columbia wildfires held the previous record for the province, surpassing the 2018 British Columbia wildfires, which consumed 1,298,454 hectares of forest.

The 10 Deadliest Fires In Canadian History

1Matheson FireBlack Rivr-Matheson, Ontario2231916
21825 Miramichi FireNew Brunswick1601825
3Great Porcupine FireTimmins, Ontario731911
4Opemiska Community Hall FireChapais, Quebec481980
5Great Fire of 1922Timiskaming, Ontario431922
6Great Vancouver FireVancouver, British Columbia281886
71877 Great Fire of Saint JohnSaint John, New Brunswick191877
8Saguenay FireSaguenay, Quebec71870
91900 Hull-Ottawa FireHull, Quebec71900
10Great Fire of 1846St. John’s, Newfoundland31846

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