6 Worst Wildfires in Arizona History

Sadly, flames make up for what Arizona lacks in other natural disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes. It is simple for fires to start and spread in the Grand Canyon State because it is one of the warmest and driest states in the US. Fires, on the other hand, essentially just require two things to spread an ignition source and favorable circumstances. The weather, terrain, and fuels are some of the conditions. Fuel may consist of wood and bushes or grasses and brush, depending on the region of the state.

About 10 million acres have burnt as a result of wildfires in Arizona in only the previous 50 years. Twenty years have passed since the start of ten of these fires, which have burned over 100,000 acres. All of these flames are fueled by severe meteorological conditions and multiyear droughts. What used to be primarily caused by lightning has now been more artificial. These are the top six wildfires in Arizona’s recorded history.

1. Lone Fire, Four Peaks Wilderness Area

In 1996, a campfire near the Four Peaks Wilderness area was left unattended by two campers. One of the largest fires Arizona had witnessed in the previous 25 years was the result of this. Over the course of 11 days, this wildfire burned 61,000 acres of land. This incident also set fire to a remote grove of ponderosa pine that surrounded Four Peaks summit. During this fire, nobody was harmed.

2. Willow Fire, Near Payson

A lightning strike in 2004 started a wildfire. It lasted over a month and destroyed about 115,000 acres of land. This calamity came uncomfortably close to the town of Payson, Arizona. Firefighters managed to halt it, though, about four miles outside of town. Important infrastructures including communication towers and power cables were under danger from this fire.

3. Rodeo-Chediski Fire, Fort Apache Reservation

Actually, two distinct persons ignited the Rodeo-Chediski Fire within a few days of one another. Eventually, they united to create a single, enormous wildfire. On June 18, 2002, Leonard Gregg, an unemployed firefighter, caused the Rodeo Fire. A few days later, a woman named Valinda Jo Elliott became lost in the jungle and used a signal fire to attract the notice of a passing news chopper. Approximately 300 homes had been destroyed and more than 450,000 acres of land had been set on fire.

4. Dude Fire, Near Payson

In Arizona’s history, the summer of 1990 was among the hottest on record. The temperature reached 122 degrees that year. Furthermore, the state had experienced a severe three-year drought. A large wildfire near Payson was triggered by a dry lightning storm. Over 100 acres had burnt in less than four hours after the fire began. Six people lost their lives and just over 24,000 acres were destroyed in the end by the Guy fire.

5. Cave Creek Complex Fire, Cave Creek

A complex fire that occurred in 2005 near Cave Creek, Arizona, took several notable landmarks with it. The wildfire, which spread over approximately 250,000 acres, was started by a bolt of lightning. Regretfully, the minute the fire struck the ancient Cave Creek Mistress Mine, it was destroyed. Additionally, it damaged “The Grand One,” the biggest saguaro cactus in the world. It measured 45 feet in height and 7 feet, 10 inches in circumference. After being damaged by the fire, the cactus eventually fell.

6. Yarnell Hill Fire, Near Yarnell

One of the most destructive wildfires ever to strike Yavapai County, Arizona, occurred on June 28, 2013. It began on July 10th and was sparked by dry lightning. Over 100 buildings were destroyed and 8,400 acres of land burned in the fire. During this period, all 700 residents of the town were evacuated. Regrettably, the fire also claimed the lives of nineteen Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew members. The main cause of this was an abrupt and severe change in the weather, which led to the fire getting worse and blocking the firefighters’ escape path.

The Yarnell Hill Fire was the deadliest fire for American firefighters since 1933 and the one that claimed the most fatalities since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.