The largest wildfires in U.S. history

(Source: Texas A&M Forest Service)

The Smokehouse Creek Fire in Texas is already the largest in the state’s history, and it’s still burning. And while everything may be bigger in Texas, the state does not claim the biggest wildfires in U.S. history.

Many of the largest fires in American history have taken place in California. However, the West and South do not have a monopoly on large wildfires, and they're not all recent events.

RELATED: How big is a 1-million acre wildfire? Smokehouse Creek Fire could stretch from NYC to Philly


File: An American flag blows in the wind in front of a burning home in Vacaville, California during the Lightning Complex fire on August 19, 2020. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

While measuring and comparing different fires can be challenging, here’s a look at some of the country’s largest wildfires as tallied by the Western Fire Chiefs Association, based on acreage burned.

The 1825 Miramichi Fire

  • Burned: 3,000,000 acres
  • Date: 1825
  • Location: Maine
  • Deaths: 160

The WFCA notes that much of the Miramichi Fire’s burned acreage was in Canada, but the flames also spread down into Maine. At least 160 people were killed as the fire consumed town after town, though the toll may be higher due to the number of lumbermen in the forests at the time. The specific cause was never determined.

The Great Fire of 1910

  • Burned: 3,000,000 acres
  • Date: 1910
  • Location: Idaho, Montana, and Washington
  • Deaths: 87

The Great Fire of 1910 lasted for only two days but burned through 3,000,000 acres across Idaho, Montana, and Washington and killed 87 people as it swept through, including 78 firefighters. Smoke from the fire was said to have been seen as far east as New York state and as far south as Denver.

The Great Michigan Fire

  • Burned: 2,500,000 acres
  • Date: October 1871
  • Location: Michigan
  • Deaths: As many as 250

This date is best known for the Great Chicago Fire but it was dwarfed by this blaze, which consumed 2.5 million acres after months of dry, rain-free conditions.

Taylor Complex Fire

  • Burned: 1,305,592
  • Date: 2004
  • Location: Alaska
  • Deaths: none

The Taylor Complex Fire in Alaska was part of the record-breaking 2004 Alaska fire season that burned more than 6,600,000 acres, the most in recorded history.

August Complex Fire

  • Burned: 1,032,648 acres
  • Date: August 2020
  • Location: Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity, Tehama, Glenn, Lake, and Colusa counties, California
  • Deaths: 1

The August Complex fire was a merging of 37 separate fires in Mendocino County. In addition to everything else going on in 2020, that year’s California wildfire season was the state’s worst ever. There were nearly 10,000 separate fires that burned 4.3 million acres and killed 33 people.


1871-Peshtigo, WI: An illustration of The Great Fire of Peshtigo in Wisconsin. People are shown trying to run and flee the fire in a chaotic scene. (Bettmann / Getty Images)

Peshtigo Fire

  • Burned: over 1,000,000 acres
  • Date: October 1871
  • Location: Wisconsin
  • Deaths: Over 1,500

The Peshtigo Fire of 1871 also happened at about the same time as the Great Chicago Fire and the Great Michigan Fire. But the Peshtigo is known as the deadliest in U.S. history, killing over 1,500 people.

Smokehouse Creek Fire

  • Burned: 1,078,086 acres so far, as of March 1
  • Date: February-March 2024
  • Location: Texas and Oklahoma
  • Deaths: 2 so far

The Smokehouse Creek fire, one of several burning in the Texas Panhandle, was 15-percent contained as of midday Friday, March 1. Crews were helped by snow and rain on Thursday, but warm weather and wind were expected to return over the weekend. President Joe Biden, who was in Texas on Thursday to visit the U.S.-Mexico border, said he directed federal officials to do "everything possible" to assist fire-affected communities.


RELATED: How to help the Texas Panhandle wildfire victims