Significant wildfire events in SC history
Chronology by year
A series of wildfires swept through SC on Februrary 16-17. Unconfirmed reports indicate that 14 people were killed, numerous homes and sawmills burned, and up to 3,000,000 acres of forest land were charred from Aiken County, S.C. to Chatham County, N.C., and east to Marlboro County, S.C. There were probably a dozen wildfires raging at the same time driven by a 40 mph wind. (The Raleigh News & Observer, Feb. 27, 1898)
On April 27, 1927, the SC Forestry Commission was created by the State Legislature. Forest fire protection was a significant part of its original mission.
The Forestry Commission made its first attempt to prosecute for illegal woodsburning. A Grand Jury in Charleston refused to return an indictment.
A group of landowners in Kershaw County formed the Kershaw County Forestry Association. This was the first of many such private associations dedicated to fire protection on private lands.
The Forestry Commission made its first two successful prosecutions for careless burning, one in Williamsburg County and one in Fairfield County. In both cases, the judges sentenced the culprits to 30 days on the chain gang.
A Georgetown County magistrate sentenced a careless woods burner to assisting in suppression of all wildfires in his neighborhood for the rest of his natural life.
South Carolina become the first southern state to offer statewide forest fire protection. At that time the Forestry Commission had only three bulldozers, 19 farm tractors, and hand tools.
During the month of February, wildfire claimed 119,169 acres of South Carolina forests. This is highest loss for a single month ever recorded in the state.
The Forestry Commission began using two-way radios for fire protection communications.
The most acreage burned in one calendar year was 229,908 acres in 1950.
SC Forestry Commission used aircraft for fire detection for the first time. Since 1993, aircraft have been the primary means of fire detection in the state.
Sumter County, March 1: Forestry Commission mechanics completed the prototype of a hydraulic lift fireplow known as the C-150. Rights to the design were acquired by the Southern Iron and Equipment Company in Chamblee, GA. The plow became known as the Sieco plow and was marketed throughout the south.
Forestry Commission photographers produced a photo of a hand sheltering a tiny tree. The photo was used nationwide to promote forest fire protection. A full-color version of the photo served as the cover of The State newspaper´s magazine section on February 10, 1952.
Chesterfield County, April 15: The Cheraw Park Fire burned 1,500 acres, destroying 4 park buildings, including a ranger´s residence.
Horry County, June 27: The Bombing Range Fire started, probably from a cigarette. When controlled 9 days later, the fire had burned 10,162 acres. The fire occurred during an extremely hot, dry period; the temperature reached 107 degrees on June 27 and remained in triple digits for several days.
Richland County, March 20: The Killian Fire burned 3,188 acres.
The week of March 30-April 5 was probably the worst week for wildfire in South Carolina history. During this period, there were 10 wildfires that burned between 1,500-8,000 acres each. For about three days during the week, firefighters responded to 200 new blazes per day.
Kershaw County, March 31: The Bethune Fire started. Over a period of 4 days it burned 8,340 acres.
Barnwell/Aiken Counties, April 1: The Windsor Fire burned 6,350 acres.
Lexington County, April 1: A large wildfire near Gaston and another near Edmund burned together before being controlled three days later. The total acreage burned was about 7,400 acres. A thunderstorm generated by this fire extinguished another wildfire in an adjoining county.
Lexington County, April 1: While the Gaston-Edmund fire raged, another wildfire burned 1,500 acres in Lexington County.
Calhoun County, April 1: A wildfire burned 3,000 acres.
Berkeley County, April 1: The Cross Fire burned 5,080 acres.
Kershaw County, April 1: The West Wateree Fire burned 1,500 acres.
Hampton County, April 1: The Early Branch Fire started when a fire escaped from a man burning off his garden spot. The first SCFC tractor operator to arrive had the fire almost under control when his glasses were knocked off by a tree branch. He couldn’t see to continue plowing and the fire crossed his line, eventually burning 2,100 acres.
Marlboro County, April 2: A wildfire near Pee Dee Camp burned 5,500 acres. The fire started from a whiskey still.
Chesterfield County, April 3: Sand Hills Forest fire burned 1,515 acres. One hundred volunteers helped control the blaze.
Berkeley County, April 13: A wildfire burned 2,624 acres.
Horry County, March 4: The Longs Crossroads Fire burned 1,200 acres.
Aiken County, April 6: The State Park Fire burned 4,000 acres, killing a civilian who was helping fight the fire with his farm tractor. One residence and a park cabin were destroyed.
Horry County, April 18: A wildfire in the Buist Tract burned 6,005 acres over a 3-day period. Burning embers caused spot fires a mile away.
Colleton County, March 20: The Rehobeth Church Fire burned 1,925 acres.
Williamsburg-Clarendon Counties, March 28: A wildfire burned 1,395 acres.
Marlboro County, April 2: The Highway 77 Fire burned 3,050 acres.
Chesterfield County, December 4: Three Forestry Commission firefighters died in a truck accident while responding to a wildfire on Sand Hills State Forest.
Marlboro County, December 5: The Bristow Fire burned 1,082 acres.
Darlington-Chesterfield Counties, April 1, 1972: A backyard trash fire escaped, burning 1,450 acres in two counties.
Horry County, April 10: What was to become the largest forest fire in SC history started from an unattended campfire between Conway and Myrtle Beach. The fire became so intense that burning material was thrown as much as a mile in advance of the flaming front. More than 100 firefighters worked 5 days before containing this 30,000 acre blaze in the infamous Buist Tract.
Colleton County, February 17: Forestry Commission first used contracted aerial tankers to combat a wildfire. Previous tanker use had been limited to occasional mutual aid from other wildfire fighting agencies.
Oconee County, April 5: The Jumping Branch Fire burned 2,856 acres, mostly on the Sumter National Forest. Firefighters from the US Forest Service, SC Forestry Commission, National Guard, and local fire departments battled the blaze for 5 days.
The most wildfires ever recorded in a 12-month period in South Carolina was between July 1, 1980 and June 30, 1981. The Forestry Commission responded to 14,405 fires during the period.
Georgetown County, March 14: The Williams Hill Fire burned 300 acres, killing one firefighter employed by forest industry. The fire started from the embers of a debris pile burned on March 12.
Georgetown County, March 14: The Nightingale Fire, started by an escaped debris burn, scorched 1,275 acres.
Horry County, March 17: The Gunters Island Fire burned 1,269 acres.
Georgetown County, October 7: A wildfire in Carver´s Bay ignited the underlying peat moss and burned underground for 25 days before being controlled. A total of 823 acres burned.
The most wildfires ever recorded in a single month was 3,724 in March of 1985.
Williamsburg County, March 12: The Golf Course Fire burned 1,000 acres.
Georgetown County, March 12: The Annandale Fire burned 1,100 acres.
Kershaw County, March 12: The Red Fox Road Fire burned 2,368 acres, including 8 homes.
Georgetown County, March 15: A wildfire near Andrews burned 1,200 acres.
Charleston County, March 14: The Santee Reserve Fire started, eventually burning 1,900 acres over a period of three days. The nest of a bald eagle was destroyed in this fire.
Charleston County, April 1: The Adams Run Fire burned 700 acres, killing one forest industry firefighter.
Georgetown County, April 3: The Plantersville Fire burned 1,500 acres.
Marlboro County, April 3: The Wallace Fire burned 1,600 acres.
Marion County, April 3: The Cartwheel Bay Fire burned 1,200 acres.
Horry County, April 5: The Browns Bay Fire burned 3,000 acres.
Horry County, April 5: The Bayboro Fire burned 2,000 acres.
Lee County, March 6: A wildfire burned 1,200 acres.
Colleton County, May 3: The Hunter´s Chapel Fire burned 3,557 acres. Forty-one tractors, four aircraft, and five pumpers were dispatched to the fire.
Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens Counties, June 23: First implementation of South Carolina´s Red Flag Fire Alert.
Following Hurricane Hugo, the Forestry Commission launched a massive forest fire prevention campaign. Called “Gimme 12”, the campaign asked people to voluntarily postpone outdoor burning for 12 months. It was the most intensive forest fire prevention effort ever attempted in the US.
Berkeley County, March 21: The Cumbee Bay fire burned 1,508 acres, mostly on National Forest land. Extensive backfiring was required to protect nearby homes before the fire was controlled 4 days later.
Marlboro County, March 24: The Hairetown Fire burned 3,600 acres in South Carolina and 1,400 acres in North Carolina.
On October 1, the Forestry Commission closed the last of its forest fire lookout towers. The tower system had served the state since the 1930´s.
Chesterfield County, March 10: The Brown RV Fire burned 950 acres, running 2.8 miles in less than 2 hours.
Darlington County, March 17: A wildfire burned 1,500 acres.
York County, March 17: Forestry Commission assigns its first female County Ranger.
Dorchester County, February 25: A fire set by an arsonist burned several structures in the historic Indian Field Campground. The person responsible was never apprehended.
Georgetown County, March 10: A fire in Carver´s Bay burned 3,150 acres over a period of 5 days. Due to underground burning in organic soils, the fire was not declared under control until May 6. The fire started from a site preparation burn.
The lowest fire occurrence on record was during calendar year 2003. Forestry Commission firefighters responded to only 1,264 wildfires during the period.
South Carolina’s worst wildland urban interface fire started on April 22, 2009 in Horry County. Due to extreme fire behavior (low humidity, high winds, flammable vegetation) the dangerous Highway 31 Fire had burned 19,130 acres, destroyed 76 homes and damaged 97 others before being controlled. Shifting winds and abnormal nighttime weather conditions made the fire very unpredictable and dangerous. No lives were lost and no injuries occurred on the wildfire.
The largest mountain wildfire on record in South Carolina was ignited by an escaped campfire in Table Rock State Park on November 9, 2016. After a dry fall season and an ongoing drought in the upstate, the Pinnacle Mountain Fire grew to 10,623 acres by the time it was controlled on December 16. The drought, rugged terrain, and the length and complexity of the firefighting effort required the Forestry Commission to request assistance from many other agencies, including aircraft from the SC Army National Guard, cooperation from the SC Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, the SC Department of Natural Resources, and the Greenville Watershed. Many out of state resources were also utilized, including an Incident Management Team from Utah, hand crews and overhead personnel from many western states, and aircraft to assist with fire suppression. These included a Chinook from the Georgia National Guard and the use of CL-415 Amphibious Water Scooping airplanes on contract from the US Forest Service.
Chronology by month and day
Highest Fire Occurrence: 2,601 fires in 1981.
Most Acreage Burned: 43,848 acres in 1950
Jan. 24, 1985, Berkeley County: Koppers Fire burned 971 acres.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 3,178 fires in 1976.
Most Acreage Burned: 119,169 acres in 1947. (State record for one month.)
Feb. 16-17, 1898: According to old reports, a series of wildfires swept through the state, burning 3,000,000 acres and killing 14.
Feb. 17, 1978, Horry County: SC Forestry Commission first used contracted aerial tankers in fire suppression. Previous tanker use had been limited to occasional mutual aid from other wildfire fighting agencies.
Feb. 24, 1981, Horry County: The Cotton Patch Bay Fire started when a fire escaped into the Buist tract from a man burning off his back yard. Thirteen SCFC tractors fought the fire for 2 days; 2,500 acres burned.
Feb. 25, 1995, Dorchester County: Arson fire destroyed several structures at the historic Indian Field Campground. The person responsible was never apprehended.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 3,724 fires in 1985. (State record for one month.)
Most Acreage Burned: 89,816 acres in 1955.
Historically, wildfire occurrence is greater in March than any other month.
March, 1930, Kershaw County: The Kershaw County Forestry Association was formed. It was the first of many such private fire protection associations organized prior to the advent of statewide forest fire protection.
Mar. 1, 1950, Sumter County: Forestry Commission mechanics complete prototype of the C-150 fireplow. This plow became the SIECO plow and is now used throughout the southeast.
Mar. 4, 1967, Horry County: Longs Crossroad Fire burned 1,200 acres.
Mar. 6, 1986, Lee County: A wildfire burned 1,200 acres.
Mar. 10, 1993, Chesterfield County: The Brown RV Fire burned 950 acres. The fire ran 2.8 miles in 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Mar. 10, 1997, Georgetown County: The Carver’s Bay Fire started, burning 3,150 acres before being contained 5 days later. Due to underground burning of organic soils, the fire was not declared under control until May 6.
Mar. 12, 1985, Williamsburg County: The Golf Course Fire burned 1,000 acres.
Mar. 12, 1985, Georgetown County: The Annandale Fire burned 1,100 acres.
Mar. 12, 1985, Kershaw County: The Red Fox Road Fire started, burning 2,368 acres and 8 homes over a 24-hour period.
Mar. 14, 1981, Georgetown County: The Williams Hill Fire burned 300 acres, killing International Paper Company firefighter Roger Cassellman.
Mar. 14, 1981, Georgetown County: The Nightingale Fire, started by an escaped debris burn, scorched 1,275 acres.
Mar. 14, 1985, Charleston County: The Santee Reserve Fire started, burning 1,900 acres over a period of three days. The nest of a bald eagle was destroyed in this fire.
Mar. 15, 1985, Georgetown County: The Andrews Fire burned 1,200 acres.
Mar. 17, 1981, Horry County: The Gunter’s Island Fire burned 1,269 acres. The fire was deliberately set in several places.
Mar. 17, 1993, Darlington County: A wildfire burned 1,500 acres.
Mar. 17, 1993, York County: The SC Forestry Commission assigned its first female County Ranger.
Mar. 20, 1966, Richland County: The Killian Fire burned 3,188 acres.
Mar. 20, 1968, Colleton County: The Rehobeth Church Fire burned 1,925 acres.
Mar. 21, 1991, Berkeley County: The Cumbee Bay Fire started, burning 1,508 acres over four days. Most of the land belonged to the US Forest Service.
Mar. 24, 1991, Marlboro County: The Hairetown Fire burned 3,600 acres in South Carolina and 1,400 acres in North Carolina.
Mar. 28, 1968, Williamsburg and Clarendon Counties: A wildfire burned 1,395 acres.
March 31, 1966, Kershaw County: The Bethune Fire started, eventually burning 8,340 acres over a four-day period.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 1,966 fires in 1976.
Most Acreage Burned: 65,954 acres in 1955.
April, 1950: SC Forestry Commission’s first use of aircraft for wildfire detection.
Apr. 1, 1966, Barnwell and Aiken Counties: The Windsor Fire burned 6,350 acres.
Apr. 1, 1966, Lexington County: A large wildfire near Gaston and another near Edmund burned together before being controlled three days later. Known as the Gaston Fire, it burned a total of about 7,400 acres. A thunderstorm generated by the fire extinguished another fire in an adjoining county.
Apr. 1, 1966, Lexington County: A wildfire burned 1,500 acres.
Apr. 1, 1966, Calhoun County: A wildfire burned 3,000 acres.
Apr. 1, 1966, Berkeley County: The Cross Fire started, burning 5,080 acres in three days.
Apr. 1, 1966, Kershaw County: The West Wateree Fire burned 1,500 acres.
Apr. 1, 1966, Hampton County: The Early Branch Fire burned 2,100 acres.
Apr. 1, 1972, Darlington and Chesterfield Counties: A backyard trash fire escaped, burning 1,450 acres in two counties.
Apr. 1, 1985, Charleston County: The Adams Run Fire burned 700 acres, killing Westvaco firefighter Gilbert Wiggins. The fire started from trash burning behind a home.
Apr. 2-4, 1966, Marlboro County: Started from a whiskey still, the Pee Dee Camp Fire burned 5,500 acres of woods and 1,500 acres of non-forest land in South Carolina. Twenty-five SCFC firefighters, some from as far away as Spartanburg fought the fire. Fifty National Guardsmen, a 15-man chain gang crew, local fire departments, and equipment from forest industry assisted. The fire crossed into North Carolina and burned about 2,300 more acres before being rained out on April 4.
Apr. 2, 1969, Marlboro County: The Highway 177 Fire started from a trash pile and burned 3,050 acres.
Apr. 3, 1966, Chesterfield County: The Sand Hills Forest Fire burned 1,515 acres. One hundred volunteers turned out to fight the fire.
Apr. 3, 1985, Georgetown County: The Plantersville Fire burned 1,500 acres.
Apr. 3, 1985, Marlboro County: The Wallace Fire burned 1,600 acres.
Apr. 3, 1985, Marion County: The Cartwheel Bay Fire burned 1,200 acres.
Apr. 5, 1978, Oconee County: The Jumping Branch Fire burned 2,856 acres, mostly on the Sumter National Forest. Firefighters from the US Forest Service, SC Forestry Commission, National Guard, and local fire departments battled the blaze for five days.
Apr. 5, 1985, Horry County: The Browns Bay Fire burned 3,000 acres.
Apr. 5, 1985, Horry County: The Bayboro Fire burned 2,000 acres.
Apr. 6, 1967, Aiken County: The State Park Fire burned 4,000 acres, killing Edward Arlie Scott, a 25-year old civilian who was helping fight the fire with his farm tractor. One residence and a park cabin were destroyed.
Apr. 10, 1976, Horry County: The largest single wildfire ever recorded in South Carolina started from an unattended campfire between Conway and Myrtle Beach. Known as the Horry County Fire, it burned 30,000 acres before being contained 5 days later. The fire was so intense that burning material was thrown more than a mile in advance of the flaming front. The smoke column was visible on photographs taken by an orbiting satellite.
Apr. 13, 1966, Berkeley County: A wildfire burned 2,624 acres.
Apr. 15, 1951, Chesterfield County: The Cheraw Park Fire burned 1,500 acres, destroying 4 park buildings and a Ranger’s residence.
Apr. 15, 1972, Darlington County: The Pond Hollow Fire started from an elderly woman´s backyard trash fire. Despite the efforts of 42 SCFC firefighters and 111 volunteers, 1,412 acres burned. Much of the burned area was stocked with young planted pine trees.
Apr. 18, 1967, Horry County: The Socastee Plantation Fire burned 6,005 acres over a three-day period. The fire started from debris burning associated with the construction of a golf course. For several hours the fire advanced at a rate of more 90 feet per minute; burning embers carried by the wind started new fires a mile away. It took 39 SCFC firefighters and 77 local volunteers to stop the blaze.
Apr. 22, 2009, Horry County: The Highway 31 Fire burned 19,130 acres and destroyed 76 homes before containment could be obtained.
Apr. 26, 1927: The SC Forestry Commission created by the State Legislature.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 804 fires in 1981.
Most Acreage Burned: 11,771 acres in 1951.
May 3, 1986, Colleton County: The Hunter’s Chapel Fire burned 3,557 acres, much of it high-value planted pine. Forty-one tractors, four aircraft, and five pumpers were dispatched to the fire.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 741 fires in 1988.
Most Acreage Burned: 16,080 acres in 1954.
June 18, 1928: Lewis E. Staley is named South Carolina’s first State Forester.
June 23, 1988, Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, and Pickens Counties: South Carolina’s Red Flag Fire Alert was implemented for the first time. The Red Flag Alert warns of high fire danger.
June 5, 1998: The Forestry Commission responded to Florida´s call for additional firefighters during what was eventually called the worst wildfire disaster in that state´s history. The Forestry Commission provided continuous firefighting support for 41 consecutive days, dispatching a total of 171 personnel during the period.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 1,350 fires in 1948.
Most Acreage Burned: 7,399 acres in 1954.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 713 fires in 1980.
Most Acreage Burned: 7,426 acres in 1954.
Aug. 11, 1968: The first class of Forestry Commission law enforcement officers completed training at the SC Criminal Justice Academy.
Aug. 13, 1991: The Wildland Fire Protection Partnership was organized to deal with wildland-urban interface problems. It is the only such organization in South Carolina with representatives from all sectors of the fire management community.
Aug. 20, 1964, Richland County: The Forestry Commission moved to its permanent headquarters on Harbison State Forest.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 520 fires in 1980.
Most Acreage Burned: 5,315 acres in 1954.
Sept. 21, 1989: Hurricane Hugo shatters 4.4 million acres of South Carolina forests, creating the most dangerous wildfire potential in the state’s history.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 938 fires in 1978.
Most Acreage Burned: 4,017 acres in 1952.
Oct. 1, 1993: The Forestry Commission closes the last of its forest fire lookout towers.
Oct. 3, 1979: A Forestry Commission hand crew was dispatched to fight fire at Mt. Baker, Washington. This was the first South Carolina crew to provide assistance on federal fires in the western US.
Oct. 7, 1983, Georgetown County: A wildfire started in Carver’s Bay, eventually burning 823 acres. The fire was not controlled until Oct. 31 due to sub-surface burning in deep organic soils.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 1,213 fires in 1978.
Most Acreage Burned: 12,882 acres in 1952.
Nov. 18, 1929, Charleston County: Forestry Commission authorities made their first attempt to prosecute for illegal woods burning. The Grand Jury refused to return an indictment.
November 9, 2016, Pickens County: The Pinnacle Mountain Fire burned 10,623 acres. The fire spread aggressively through Table Rock State Park, the Greenville Watershed, and a Wildlife Management Area. To control the fire, multiple aircraft were used, along with hand crews and overhead personnel from several western states.
Highest Fire Occurrence: 1,696 fires in 1984.
Most Acreage Burned: 25,832 acres in 1946.
Dec. 4, 1970, Chesterfield County: Three Forestry Commission firefighters were killed responding to a wildfire on Sand Hills State Forest.
Dec. 4-5, 1970, Marlboro County: The Bristow Fire burned 1,082 acres.
Dec. 9, 1952, Columbia: The State Advisory Committee of County Forestry Boards met for the first time.
Other significant fire events
Jan. 1, 1853, Cincinnati, OH: First practical fire engine tested.
Jan. 1, 1882, Charleston, SC: Charleston’s first publicly supported fire department chartered. The very first fire department in South Carolina was the Friendly Society of Charleston, a private department organized in 1735.
Jan. 15, 1778, Charleston, SC: A major fire burned half the city, destroying over 250 structures.
Feb. 6, 1851, Australia: Forest fires burn 50,000 square miles on “Black Thursday”.
Feb. 10, 1863: First fire extinguisher patent issued to Alanson Crane.
Feb. 16, 1983, Australia: “Ash Wednesday” forest fires kill 76.
Feb. 17, 1865, Columbia, SC: Much of downtown burned as Gen. Sherman advances through South Carolina.
Mar. 1, 1911, Washington, DC: Weeks Law allows federal-state cooperation in forest fire protection.
Mar. 18, 1951: Sparky the Fire Dog is born.
Mar. 31, 1966, Charleston, SC: A structure fire on Allway Street spread to adjacent buildings, destroying 26 homes.
April 17, 1923, Kershaw County, SC: A kerosene lamp ignited a fire in the upstairs auditorium of Cleveland School during a play. Seventy-seven people died, prompting changes in fire safety codes nationwide. Ironically, the play was to be the last event held in the building before moving to a new facility.
April 21, 1878, New York City: The nation’s first firehouse pole was installed.
May 6, 1987, Manchuria, China: Three forest fires, known as the Great Black Dragon Complex, started. More than 19 million acres burned in China and Russia. This may be largest identifiable wildfire incident in history. (Australia’s Black Thursday fires included a number of unrelated incidents.)
May 9, 1950, Lincoln National Forest, NM: Firefighters found an orphaned bear cub in the aftermath of a forest fire. Named “Smokey”, the cub became the living symbol of forest fire prevention.
May 23, 1952, Washington, DC: The Smokey Bear Law was enacted by the 82nd Congress.
May 30, 1821, Boston, MA: The first rubber-lined cotton web fire hose was patented by J. Boyd.
May 30, 1905: The SC State Firemen’s Association was organized.
June 10, 1905, Squaw Mt., ME: The nation’s first forest fire lookout tower was staffed.
June 17, 1955, Charleston, SC: The Tidewater Terminal Fire killed one policeman and one civilian. Property loss was estimated at $3 million.
June 17, 1991, Charleston, SC: An industrial explosion and fire on King Street Extension killed nine persons.
July 6, 1994, Glenwood Springs, CO: The South Canyon Fire blew up, killing 14 wildland firefighters on Storm King Mountain. One South Carolina firefighter from the Savannah River Site was among the dead.
July 9, 1953, Mendocino National Forest, CA: The Rattlesnake Fire killed 15 Forest Service firefighters.
Aug. 5, 1949, Mann Gulch, MT: A wildfire blow-up killed 13 smokejumpers.
Aug. 9, 1944: Smokey the Bear was first described. Artist Albert Staehle was selected to create the first picture of Smokey.
Aug. 19, 1949, SW France: A forest fire killed 230 people and burned 256,000 acres.
Sept. 1, 1894, Pine County, MN: A forest fire destroyed the town of Hinkley, killing 418. Many of the dead were never identified.
Sept. 1951, Sumter, SC: Forestry Commission photographers produced a photo of a hand sheltering a tiny tree. The photo was used nationwide to promote fire prevention. An artist’s rendering of the photo was included as an inset on several national Smokey Bear posters.
October, 1984, Columbia, SC: The SLED Arson Team was established.
Oct. 2, 1922, Washington, DC: President Harding declared the first fire prevention week.
Oct. 8-9, 1871, Simultaneous Events: Pestigo, WI: Wildfire killed 1,152 in the town of Pestigo and surrounding communities. This is the deadliest forest fire on record in the US.
Chicago, IL: The Great Chicago Fire destroyed much of downtown, killing 250 people.
Oct. 12, 1918, Cloquet, MN: A forest fire killed 559 people.
Oct. 20, 1991, Oakland, CA: The Oakland Hills Fire killed 26, destroyed 2,449 houses and numerous other structures. This is the worst wildland-urban interface fire on record in the US.
Nov. 6, 1896, Boston, MA: The National Fire Protection Association was founded.
Dec. 3, 1974, Williamsburg County, SC: The Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus Train Fire killed four persons.
Dec. 25, 1963, Charleston, SC: A two-story frame building on Rodgers Alley burned, killing twelve persons.