Port Huron Fire of 1871
The Port Huron Fire of Sunday October 8, 1871 (one of a series of fires known collectively as the Great Fire of 1871 or the Great Michigan Fire) burned a number of cities including White Rock and Port Huron, and much of the countryside in the "Thumb" region of the U.S. state of Michigan (1.2 million acres, or 4,850 km²). On the same day, other fires burned the cities of Holland and Manistee, Michigan, as well as broad swaths of forest in various areas of the state. At least 50 people died as a result of the Port Huron Fire, and at least 200 from all the fires in the state.
The origins of the fires are unknown, but the damage was worsened by a number of factors. Uninterrupted drought plagued the Midwest into early October and winds were strong. When the wind increased and shifted direction, fire fighters were unable to control the flames any longer. Vast tracts of forest burned for a week in parts of Michigan and Wisconsin. Within hours, several Midwestern cities and towns were reduced to charcoal and ash.
Windsor, Ontario met a similar fate four days later.
Much of the area burned by the Port Huron Fire was to be swept by another deadly conflagration 10 years later.
- Hanines, D. A.; Sando, R. W. (1969), Climatic Conditions Preceding Historically Great Fires in the North Central Region, U.S.D.A. Forest Service Research Paper NC-34; see Figure 1.