List of fires

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This is a list of historic disastrous fires. Urban fires are the most numerous due to loss of life and property, but also included are lists of fires in individual structures, ships and other transportation, and mines. A few of the most important wildfires or forest fires are included, but this list is not the primary resource for the most severe wildfires, which is summarized in the List of forest fires.

Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone.

Jack London after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire[1]

Town and city fires

This is a list of some city conflagrations. Before the 20th century, fires were a major hazard to urban areas and the cause of massive amounts of damage to cities.

Antiquity through Middle Ages



  • 1624 – Oslo (Norway) destroyed.
  • 1653 – Great Fire of Marlborough, England, destroyed the Guildhall, St Mary’s Church, the County Armoury, and 224 dwellings
  • 1654 – Delft Thunderclap, an explosion of a gunpowder storage facility killed between 100 and 200 people and destroyed the surrounding area of the city of Delft, the Netherlands.
  • 1656 – Fire of Aachen destroys 4,664 houses, kills 17.
  • 1657 – Great Fire of Meireki destroyed two-thirds of the Japanese capital Edo (modern-day Tokyo)[3]
  • 1666 – Great Fire of London, which originated in a baker's shop on Pudding Lane and destroyed much of London.
  • 1675 – Great Fire of Northampton, England. The blaze was caused by sparks from an open fire in St. Mary's Street near Northampton castle. In 6 hours it devastated the town centre, destroying about 600 buildings (three quarters of the town) including All Saints church. 11 people died and about 700 families were made homeless. (September 20)
  • 1676 – Jamestown, Virginia. Burned by Nathaniel Bacon and his followers during Bacon's Rebellion to prevent Governor Berkley from using it as a base.
  • 1677 – Fire of Rostock destroys 700 houses and accelerates city's economic decline at the end of the Hanseatic period
  • 1678 – Hardegsen, a fire during the Christmas fair causes a conflagration that destroys most of the town centre. No injuries as people were in church.
  • 1689 – Skopje, present-day capital of Macedonia, is burned
  • 1692 – Two thirds of Usingen razed. Replaced by a new Baroque town centre
  • 1694 – Great Fire of Warwick, England
  • 1696 – St. John's, Newfoundland and 35 other settlements burned by French forces under Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville



Views of Pittsburgh the day after the 1845 Great Fire. Detail from William Coventry Wall print, "Great Conflagration at Pittsburgh".




Building or structure fires

Antiquity through Middle Ages



On the right, a white stone bridge arches over a wide river. On the far side and to the left, a gabled building is outlined in front of huge flames rising up to the night sky; they are reflected in the water and illuminate part of the bridge and a building with two towers in the background. There are several boats full of people in the river, and large crowds are assembled on the near bank and on the bridge.
J. M. W. Turner watched the Palace of Westminster fire in 1834 and painted several canvases depicting it, including The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons (1835)


Firemen struggle to extinguish the Reichstag fire on 27 February 1933




File:Alma building fire 1.jpg
Fire at Alma College in May 2008. Only a brick shell remained and was subsequently demolished.

Transportation fires

Ship fires

Train and rail fires

Bus fires

Road fires

Other fires

Mining fires

This is a partial list of fire due to mining: man-made structures to extract minerals, ores, rock, petroleum, natural gas, etc.

Forest and countryside fires

See also


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Further reading