Fires and Explosions

Worst U.S. Forest Fires

Whether you're talking about forest fires or kitchen fires, factory explosions or arson, when fires get out of control, the damage can be devastating.

Sept. 2, England: “Great Fire of London” destroyed much of the city, including St. Paul's Cathedral. Damage £10 million.
Dec. 16, New York City: 530 buildings destroyed by fire.
Oct. 8, Chicago: the “Chicago Fire” burned 17,450 buildings and killed 250 people; $196 million in damage.
Nov. 9, Boston: fire destroyed 800 buildings; $75 million in damage.
Dec. 5, New York City: fire in Brooklyn Theater killed more than 300.
Dec. 8, Vienna: at least 620 died in fire at Ring Theatre.
May 1, Scofield, Utah: explosion of blasting powder in coal mine killed 200.
June 30, Hoboken, N.J.: piers of North German Lloyd Steamship line burned; 326 dead.
Dec. 30, Chicago: Iroquois Theatre fire killed 602.
Feb. 7, Baltimore, Md.: blaze spread through downtown Baltimore. More than 1,500 buildings were destroyed. Damages $150 million, but no lives lost
June 15, New York City, NY: the steamship ferry General Slocum ignited on a voyage to Long Island; over 1,000 dead.
March 10, France: explosion in coal mine in Courrières killed 1,060.
Dec. 6, Monongah, W. Va.: coal mine explosion killed 362.
Dec. 19, Jacobs Creek, Pa.: explosion in coal mine left 239 dead.
Jan. 13, Boyertown, Pa.: fire in Rhoads Opera House killed 170 people who were attending church-sponsored stage performance.
March 4, Collinwood, Ohio: fire in Collinwood school killed 176. Led to revision of fire codes for schools.
Nov. 13, Cherry, Ill.: explosion in coal mine killed 259.
March 25, New York City: fire in Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fatal to 145.
Oct. 22, Dawson, N.M.: coal mine explosion left 263 dead.
April 10, Eddystone, Pa.: explosion in munitions plant killed 133.
Dec. 6, Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia: Belgian steamer collided with ammunition ship Mont Blanc, which was carrying over 2,500 tons of explosives. Explosion leveled part of Halifax and left about 1,600 people dead.
Sept. 21, Oppau, Germany: ammonium nitrate exploded destroying the BASF plant and nearby houses, killing 430 people.
May 17, Beulah, S.C.: fire started by a candle during a Cleveland school play killed 77.
May 19, Mather, Pa.: coal mine explosion left 195 dead.
April 21, Columbus, Ohio: fire in Ohio State Penitentiary killed 320 convicts.
March 18, New London, Tex.: explosion de-stroyed schoolhouse; 294 killed.
April 23, Natchez, Mississippi: 209 die when a packed dance hall erupts in flames during a performance by Walter Barnes and His Royal Creolians Orchestra. The blaze is fueled by decorative Spanish moss covering the building's rafters, which generated flammable methane gas once burned. Among those to perish were Barnes and nine members of his band.
April 26, Manchuria: explosion in Honkeiko Colliery killed 1,549.
Nov. 28, Boston, Mass.: Coconut Grove nightclub fire killed 491.
July 6, Hartford, Conn.: fire and ensuing stampede in main tent of Ringling Brothers Circus killed 168 and injured 487.
July 17, Port Chicago, Calif.: 322 killed when ammunition ships exploded.
Oct. 20, Cleveland: spilled liquid natural gas exploded, killing 130.
Dec. 7, Atlanta: fire in Winecoff Hotel killed 119.
April 16–18, Texas City, Tex.: most of the city destroyed by a fire and subsequent explosion on the French freighter Grandcamp, which was carrying a cargo of ammonium nitrate. At least 516 were killed and over 3,000 injured.
Sept. 2, China: fire on Chongqing (Chungking) waterfront killed 1,700.
May 26, off Quonset Point, R.I.: explosion and fire on aircraft carrier Bennington killed 103.
Aug. 7, Colombia: seven army ammunition trucks exploded at Cali, killing about 1,100.
Aug. 8, Belgium: 262 died in coal mine fire at Marcinelle.
Dec. 1, Chicago: fire at Our Lady of Angels, a Roman Catholic grade school, resulted in deaths of 90 students and 3 nuns.
Jan. 21, Coalbrook, South Africa: coal mine explosion killed 437.
Nov. 13, Syria: 152 children killed in moviehouse fire.
Dec. 17, Niteroi, Brazil: circus fire fatal to 323.
Feb. 7, Saarland, West Germany: coal mine gas explosion killed 298.
Nov. 9, Japan: explosion in coal mine at Omuta killed 447.
May 28, India: coal mine fire in state of Bihar killed 375.
June 1, nr. Fukuoka, Japan: coal mine explosion killed 236.
May 22, Brussels, Belgium: fire in L'Innovation department store left 322 dead.
July 29, off North Vietnam: fire on U.S. carrier Forrestal killed 134.
Jan. 14, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii: nuclear aircraft carrier Enterprise ripped by explosions; 27 dead, 82 injured.
Nov. 1, Saint-Laurent-du-Pont, France: fire in dance hall killed 146 young people.
May 13, Osaka, Japan: 118 people died in fire in nightclub on top floor of Sennichi department store.
June 6, Wankie, Rhodesia: explosion in coal mine killed 427.
Nov. 29, Kumamoto, Japan: fire in Taiyo department store killed 101.
Feb. 1, São Paulo, Brazil: fire in upper stories of bank building killed 189 people, many of whom leaped to their deaths.
Dec. 27, Dhanbad, India: explosion in coal mine followed by flooding from nearby reservoir left 372 dead.
May 28, Southgate, Ky.: fire in Beverly Hills Supper Club; 167 dead.
July 11, Tarragona, Spain: 140 killed at coastal campsite when tank truck carrying liquid gas overturned and exploded.
Aug. 20, Abadan, Iran: nearly 400 killed when arsonists set fire to crowded theater.
Dec. 18–21, Caracas, Venezuela: power-plant fire left 128 dead.
Dec. 31, San Juan, P.R.: fire in Dupont Plaza Hotel set by three employees, killing 96 people.
June 3, Ural Mountains: liquefied petroleum gas leaking from a pipeline alongside the Trans-Siberian railway near Uta, 72 mi east of Moscow, exploded and destroyed 2 passing passenger trains, killing 575 and injuring 723 of an estimated 1,200 passengers on both trains.
Oct. 23, Pasadena, Tex.: an explosion followed by a series of others and a fire at a Phillips Petroleum Co. plastics manufacturing plant killed 23 and injured 132 people. A large leak of ethylene was presumed to be the cause.
March 25, New York City: arson fire in the illegal Happy Land Social Club, in the Bronx, killed 87 people.
May 10, nr. Bangkok, Thailand: fire in doll factory killed at least 187 people and injured 500 others. World's deadliest factory fire.
March 24, Chamonix, France: fire in Belgian truck carrying margarine and flour in the Mont Blanc tunnel trapped dozens of cars. Death toll was at least 42.
Oct. 12, Aden, Yemen: U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole was heavily damaged when a small boat loaded with explosives blew up alongside it. Seventeen sailors were killed in what was apparently a deliberate terrorist attack.
Nov. 11, nr. Kaprun, Austria: cable car transporting skiers to the Kitzsteinhorn glacier broke into flames in a mountain tunnel, killing 156. It was Austria's worst Alpine disaster.
Dec. 25, Luoyang, China: at least 309 people were killed in fire at shopping center. Most of the victims had been attending Christmas party at unlicensed disco in building.
Jan. 27, Lagos, Nigeria: explosions at military depot triggered a stampede from the surrounding neighborhoods. More than 1,000 killed; many of the victims drowned in two muddy canals as they tried to flee.
June 20, Jixi, Heilongjian province, China: gas explosion at a coal mine killed 111 people. China's mining industry is one of the deadliest; it is estimated that more than 5,000 mining-related deaths occurred in 2001.
Feb. 18, Daegu, South Korea: subway fire, started by an arsonist, raced through two trains, killing 189 people and injuring more than 140.
Feb. 20, West Warwick, R.I.: fire, caused by a pyrotechnics display at a rock concert, engulfed a nightclub, The Station, killing 100 and injuring more than 150.
July and August, Portugal: fifteen people died during forest fires, intensified by unusually hot, dry air and strong winds, burned more than 350,000 hectares of land, and caused soil erosion that affected water supplies and agriculture. Fire damage costs added up to approximately one billion euros.
July 16, southern India: thatched roof of a school caught fire, killing 94 children.
Aug. 1, Asunción, Paraguay: fire, caused by a gas leak, in a supermarket killed at least 400 people.
Nov. 27, Shaanxi province, China: gas explosion at Chenjiashan Coal Mine in northwest China killed 166 miners. In October, another blast killed 148.
Dec. 30, Buenos Aires, Argentina: a lit flare started a fire at a nightclub, killing 175 people.
Feb. 14, Liaoning province, China: a gas explosion killed 209 miners at the Sujiawan mine. It was the deadliest reported mine disaster in China since 1949.
Jan. 1, Sago mine, W. Va.: thirteen mine workers were trapped underground for more than 40 hours after a methane explosion. Only one emerged alive. Subsequent investigation revealed that lightning was the most likely ignition source of the explosion.
March 19, Ulyanovskaya, Russia: a methane explosion in a coal mine killed 110 people, making it the worst mine disaster in recent Russian history.
May 24, Novokuznetsk, Russia: two months after the Ulyanovskaya explosion, another methane blast killed 38 in the nearby Yubileninaya coal mine.
June 18, Charleston, S.C.: Nine firefighters were killed when the roof collapsed during a fire in a furniture warehouse.
August 25–27, Greece: over 220 separate fires ravage the Greek countryside and endanger ancient Olympic sites around Athens. At least 59 people die in the blazes.
Oct. 21–25, southern, Calif.: 16 wildfires from Simi Valley to the Mexican border are fanned by 50 to 60 mph winds burning 500,000 acres. Three people die, 25 firefighters and civilians are injured, and nearly 1,300 homes are destroyed. Over 500,000 people evacuate their homes while nearly 1,000 firefighters fight the flames.
Feb. 7, Georgia, U.S.: an explosion at an Imperial Sugar Refinery near Savannah, Georgia kills 14 people and injures many more.
May 15, Nigeria: at least 100 people die and many more are injured when a construction vehicle strikes an oil pipeline, causing it to explode in Lagos, Nigeria.
Aug. 10, Toronto, Canada: explosions at the Sunrise Propane Industrial Gasses facility force thousands of people in Toronto to evacuate their homes. Some residents suffer injuries and one firefighter dies.
Oct. 14, California, U.S.: at least two people die and 10,000 acres of land burn when two wildfires hit the San Fernando Valley in California fanned by the Santa Ana winds.
Oct. 30, India: a series of explosions in the northeastern region of Assam kill at least 55 people and wound more than 200 more.
Nov. 15–18, California, U.S.: fueled by hurricane strength Santa Ana winds, three fires burn for several days consuming 40,000 acres of land and hundreds of homes. A state of emergency is called in five counties.
Dec. 11, Russia: an explosion during routine blasts for tunneling at a mine in the Murmansk region of northern Russia kills 12 people and injures 3 others.
June 16, western Indonesia: an explosion at a coal mine in the West Sumatra province kills six people and traps at least 24 more in the 300-foot mine.
Jan. 27, Brazil: A fire breaks out in a nightclub in Santa Maria. The cause of the fire is a flare from pyrotechnics used by a band performing on stage at the club. At the time of the fire, the club is packed with hundreds of students from nearby universities. According to officials, at least 233 people are killed.

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