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Fatalities due to the most significant wildfires worldwide as of 2016

This statistic shows the number of people killed in major forest, brush or wildfires from 1900 to 2016. Approximately 1,000 persons were killed by the Cloquet, Minnesota fire in the United States on October 15, 1918.

1918 Cloquet Fire in the United States – additional information

As shown in the statistic above, the forest fire which occurred on October 15, 1918 caused approximately 1,000 fatalities. The massive fire took place in northern Minnesota and remains one of the most destructive forest fires in Minnesota’s recorded history. The fire was named, the Cloquet Fire, because this was the region where the damage was the worst. In total, 38 communities were damaged and approximately 250 thousand acres of land were burned. The Cloquet Fire is still ranked as one of the top ten natural disaster events based on the highest number of fatalities in the United States. It has been assumed that the fire was caused by sparks from a passenger train. Burning for three days, the fire was fueled by a dry, hot summer and strong winds.

In general, wildfires have a relatively unpredictable nature as their spread can vary based on the flammable material and can differ by their extent and wind speeds. Forest fire prevention strategies for detection and suppression have improved significantly since the Cloquet Fire due to technological innovations and the adoption of various skills and methods. Currently, wildfire researchers use technologies that integrate data on weather, topography as well as other factors to predict how fires spread. Nevertheless, wildfires still occur throughout the United States. According to new data released by the National Fire Protection Agency, wildfires scorched more than 10 million acres of land in the U.S. in 2015. The year 2015 was marked by intense drought and dry conditions which contributed to the high levels of wildfire activity.

Number of fatalities due to major forest, brush or wildfires between 1900 and 2016*

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Release date

November 2016



Survey time period

1900 to 2016

Supplementary notes

* Figures are as of November 17, 2016.

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Statistics on "Natural Disasters"

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