More than 80 percent of all wildfires are started by humans. An average of 1.2 million acres of U.S. woodland burn every year.
The Black Dragon Fire of 1987, the largest wildfire in modern times, burned some 20 million acres across China and the Soviet Union, an area about the size of South Carolina.
Lightning strikes the earth over 100,000 times a day. 10 to 20 percent of these lightning strikes can cause fire.
America’s deadliest fire took place April 27, 1865, aboard the steamship Sultana. Among other passengers were 1,500 recently released Union prisoners traveling home up the Mississippi when the boilers exploded. The ship was six times over capacity, which helps explain the death toll of 1,547.
The Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin was the second deadliest blaze in United States history, taking 1,200 lives—four times as many as the Great Chicago Fire. Both conflagrations broke out on the same day: October 8, 1871.