fire of 1881

Great Thumb Forest Fire

by mobrian on September 1, 2008

Did you know in September of 1881 Michigan experienced a massive forest fire which devastated almost a million acres and several hundred people died. The fire engulfed Huron, Sanilac, Saint Clair, Tuscola and Lapeer Counties.  This was the second fire in a ten year span which affected the area.  The first fire in 1871 was highly unpublicized due to major fires in Chicago and Wisconsin.    This fire was one of the major catalyst for the creation of Michigan’s first forest fire act (PA 249) in 1903.

Michigan DNR reports that

In the summer of 1871, a drought occurred over much of the Great Lakes region. Slash and debris from logging and land clearing became tinder-dry during the months without rain. From early August no rain fell, pastures and gardens dried up, wells went dry, streams shrank to a mere trickle, and crops failed. Set carelessly or by settlers in clearing land, fires burned everywhere, and [click to continue…]