Big Canadian Forest Fires Past to Present

Canada has nearly 10 per cent of the world’s forests and each year about 7,500 forest fires take place. In total about 2.5 million hectares burn every year, but 2017 seems to be an exception with perhaps more burning.

Most forest fires in Canada never get bigger than 200 hectares, but those “small” ones make up 97 per cent of the total burned every year. It cost Canada $500 million to $1 billion annually in fire suppression.

Mid-summer here in the Bow Valley changed from temperatures in the 30s to cool days with smokey skies due to a fire in Verdant Creek south of Sunshine Ski Village. Below is a list of big fires that have raged across Canada over the past nearly 200 years.

Miramichi Fires in 1825 is known as one of the largest forest fires in North American history and took place in New Brunswick. In Fredricton, one-third of the homes were burned and Newcastle burned in only three hours.

Saguenay Fires in 1870 spread over 150 kilometres in northeastern Quebec forced residents into dugouts in the area. The fire was caused by drought and one-third of the population lost everything.

Matheson Fire in 1916 is called the worst fire in Ontario’s history. It burned 500,00 hectares and led to the creation of the Forest Protection Branch of the Department of Lands, Forests and Mines, which is now known as the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Forest Fires Prevention Act.

The Great Fire in 1919 took place in eastern Alberta and Saskatchewan. It burned 2.8 million hectares.

Haileybury Fire in 1922 burned in Ontario between New Liskard and North Cobalt and took 500,000 hectares of forest.

The Manitoba Fires in 1989 was the worst in the province’s history. It was caused by drought and burned more than 2.5 million hectares, over 25,000 people were evacuated.

Salmon Arm Fire in 1998 burned 6,000 hectares and affected 7,000 people. It cost $10 million dollars and burned 40 buildings.

McLure Lake and Okanagan Park Fires in 2003 burned over 50,000 acres and cost over $60 million to put out. (click to play video below of 2017 fires in area)

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West Kelowna Fires in 2009 racked up a bill of $400 million and burned 10,000 hectares over three fires.

Quebec Fires in 2010 was composed of 120 fires and burned 90,000 hectares of land. It took about 1,200 workers to control the fires.

Slave Lake Fire in 2011 destroyed one-third of the town burning 433 buildings. It grew to be over 4,700 hectares.

It's been exactly three years since I shot and shared this image from the Spreading Creek Wildfire in Banff. With all of the wildfires burning in BC right now I just wanted to take this time to say PLEASE obey the fire bans and be very careful with any sort of flame or heat source you're using for anything. This is turning out to be one of the most destructive wildfire seasons here in Canada, and sadly some of these massive fires were human caused. So far nearly 40,000 people have been displaced. My heart goes out to all of those affected by these blazes. The Canadian Red Cross is supporting the Government of British Columbia in providing relief for those in need, and all donations will help provide immediate relief, such as cots, blankets, family reunification and financial assistance for food, clothing and personal needs. I've included the link to donate in my bio, or you can just visit the Canada Red Cross website. Thank you!! 🙏🏼

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Richardson Fire in 2011 was the largest fire in Alberta since the 1950 Chinchaga fire. It burned 700,000 hectares.

Fort McMurray Wildfire in 2016 was the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history. It was also the costliest disaster in Canadian history, cost of nearly $10 billion.

Williams Lake and BC Fires in 2017 are on ongoing situation that have forced 40,000 people from their homes with another 20,000 told to be prepared to evacuate.

There are over 120 fires burning in BC and the smoke is clouding the skies from the West Coast to Calgary.

Here in the Bow Valley, the skies have been smoke-filled for days with no sign of letting up as a fire burns near Sunshine Ski Village. For current BC wild fires see here.

With fires raging across B.C. and now reaching Banff National Park we could see the glow of the blazes from @canmorekananaskis yesterday afternoon at Stephanie and Kurt's wedding. Photographer: @loreephotography \\ Wedding Planner: @rockymountainweddings \\ Dress: @unkoyoshiokallc \\ Florals: @elementsfloralcanmore \\ Hair and Makeup: @mountainbeauties . . . . #BCStrong #bcwildfires #canmore #banff #banffnationalpark #bcwildfire #wanderingphotographers #huffpostido #junebugweddings #calgaryweddingphotographer #calgaryphotographer #canmorewedding #rockymountains #calgaryweddings #canmorephotographer #banffnationalpark #banffwedding #travelalberta #explorecanada #canada150 #explorealberta #theknot #elopementcollective #heyheyhellomay #huffpostweddings #theweddinglegends #alberta #albertaphotographer #mountainbrides #destinationwedding . . . @calgaryherald @calgarysun @globalcalgary @ctv_calgary @cbccalgary @country105calgary @btcalgary

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