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Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time

Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time

Postby Glacier » Jul 18th, 2017, 12:13 pm

Here's a list of the largest fires ever recorded in BC west of the Rockies (as far as I can find). Please add to the list if I missed any.

1) Chelaslie River = 133,100 Ha in 2014
2) Hanceville Riske Creek = 125,000 Ha in 2017 (and growing)
3) Brittany Triangle = 66,571 Ha in 2009
4) Tenakihi - Mesilinka = 61,285 Ha in 2014
5) Elephant Hill (formerly Ashcroft Reserve) = 52,600 Ha in 2017 (and growing)
Last edited by Glacier on Aug 10th, 2017, 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby maryjane48 » Jul 18th, 2017, 1:58 pm

basically double the numbers for rough acre size?
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby Glacier » Jul 18th, 2017, 3:02 pm

maryjane48 wrote:basically double the numbers for rough acre size?

1 hectare = 2.47 acres. Multiply by 2.47 to get acres.
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby Glacier » Jul 21st, 2017, 7:35 pm

The Hanceville Fire is now the largest ever recorded west of the continental divide. The previous record occurred in 2014...

Oh, and the Elephant Hill/Ashcroft Fire is the largest in the Kamloops Fire Zone. OK Mountain Park has been bumped to 3rd.

largestfiresbcx.jpg
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby Drip_Torch » Jul 22nd, 2017, 12:39 pm

Glacier wrote:Here's a list of the largest fires ever recorded in BC west of the Rockies (as far as I can find). Please add to the list if I missed any.

1) Chelaslie River = 133,100 Ha in 2014
2) Hanceville Riske Creek = 125,000 Ha in 2017 (and growing)
3) Brittany Triangle = 66,571 Ha in 2009
4) Tenakihi - Mesilinka = 61,285 Ha in 2014
5) Elephant Hill (formerly Ashcroft Reserve) = 52,600 Ha in 2017 (and growing)



Wait what?

With all due respect Glacier, it appears you've compiled a list of the top 5 largest fires recorded during the BC Liberal government tenure.

Every now and then, I stand on a soap box and talk down the utility of the fire triangle as a public policy/wildfire discussion tool. In the words of George Box; “all models are wrong, but some models are useful.” One of the biggest weaknesses of viewing wildfire through the fire triangle is the limited number of outputs it stimulates. When the only elements we're discussing are heat, oxygen and fuel, the only output we're considering is burnt fuel . Personally I think the fire triangle is best left as an introductory model to very basic fire physics. Often times, in support of my argument I'll ask; which fire was larger, the OMP fire of 2003, or the Eg Fire of 1982? At 182,725 hectares burned, near the Liard River, the answer is obviously the Eg Fire, but was it?

Let's discuss the 1950's for a minute. The Chinchaga River (Wisp) Fire burned a total of 1,400,000 hectares. 90,000 hectares burned on the BC side of the border. That's a big fire - right? The Kech Fire burned 225,920 hectares in a tributary of the Liard River. That's a big fire too. But no-one, beyond us wildfire geeks, is even remotely aware of the fact they occurred, and they sure don't influence anyone's lives today. Yet, I can point to a fire in 1938 that only burned 30,406 hectares, in an epic 44 day battle, that is still influencing us and spawning heated conversations to this day.

That fire would be the Bloedel Fire between Campbell River and Sayward. (Often called the Sayward Fire, but the actual Sayward fire was a mere 834 hectares and burned in 1922) It was estimated the Bloedel Fire consumed 50,000 years of employment, based on 2,000 men working for 25 years. A stunning 5 billion board feet of timber forfeited. It was the first large scale use of the Canadian Military in wildfire suppression activities in BC, with three naval warships dispatched and over 1200 military personal utilized. Premier Pattullo, through Lands Minister Hon. A. Wells Gray, issued a number of orders closing the woods to both logging and recreational activities; issuing a further ban prohibiting all campfires.

Personally, I think the Bloedel fire is one of the five largest fires in BC history, due to the human elements that it shaped going forward. Premier Pattullo and Lands Minister Wells Gray, laid a framework that is still largely used to this day. They later created a new amendment to the Forest Act, that bound people engaged in logging operations to "dispose of slash to the satisfaction of the Chief Forester". Of course, the largest, most emotionally driven legacy we're still dealing with to this day; came in the form of an idea. An idea that took flight many years later with a conglomerate of forest companies lead by Bloedel - The Martin Mars as a water bomber.

When I look at wildfire, I see it through a model that includes two additional elements: the chemical chain reaction and the human element. I see outputs and outcomes, and I consider how it influences our lives, how it was catalyst for change, and how it shaped the way we govern ourselves.

Off the top of my head, and without any explanation, my list of the top 5 would be:

Vancouver Fire 1886
Fernie Fire 1908
Bloedel Fire 1938
Tat (Clowholm) Fire 1991
OMP 2003

Of course if you're strictly a size matters kind of person, you might want to look at the three I mentioned above and; Tee Fire (1971) 110,419 hectares, Lava Canyon (2009) 66,719.



ETA: This day in history was dubbed "Black Friday" - Friday July 22, 1938. Day 18 of the Bloedel Fire. Northwest winds gusting to 45 miles a hour caused the fire to double in size in eight hours.

Mrs. Fred White wrote: "We put in a night of terror... A great shroud of black smoke swept down upon us in a high wind and it became so dark that we turned on the lights at 6 o'clock in the evening."

Premier Pattullo sent out this radio message from Victoria to the Province: "The conflagration is the most serious in the history of the Province. Yesterday all logging operations in the area and all campfire permits were cancelled. The Government has taken every step for safety that can be devised to cope with the emergency, beyond this, we can only appeal to the co-operation of the public"
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby Glacier » Jul 23rd, 2017, 6:49 am

Yes, there were some very destructive fires in the past. The barkerville fire of 1868, the Lumby fire of 1967, the Dean Fire of 1971, etc.

But, I'm just talking about large fires west of the continental divide.

As for BC Liberal Fires (Elephant Hill is now over 68,000 ha, and perhaps the largest fire ever recorded in the southern interior):

largestfiresbcxy.jpg
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby Drip_Torch » Jul 23rd, 2017, 12:24 pm

Glacier wrote:Yes, there were some very destructive fires in the past. The barkerville fire of 1868, the Lumby fire of 1967, the Dean Fire of 1971, etc.


You got me on the Dean fire of 1971 - any chance I can get you to share some details? I suspect it's a fairly common name, fairly certain I worked on a Dean fire, but it sure wasn't in the 70's. The Dean Fire in 1960, near Merritt, grew to 5,300 hectares and was one of, if not the first fire actioned by a Martin Mars.

Dean-Fire-MM.jpg
Marianas Mars CF-LYJ -Dropping on the Dean Fire 1960. BC Archives NA-20179


The only destructive fires I'm aware of in the 70's:

-Kilpoola lake south of Osoyoos
-Eden, near Salmon Arm
-Rill Creek, Oliver/Osoyoos area.
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby Glacier » Jul 23rd, 2017, 2:41 pm

What's a Marianas Mars? Is it like the Martin Mars?

Yes, 1960 is correct. I was going from memory, and got the year mixed up. I'm pretty sure there was a big Lumby fire in 1967 though.
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby Drip_Torch » Jul 23rd, 2017, 3:25 pm

What's a Marianas Mars? Is it like the Martin Mars?


Short answer - yes.

Long answer...

1958 was a bad fire year for British Columbia (over 2 million acres of forest burned) and the dawn of the era of airtankers.

"Marianas" was the first Mars completed by FIFT during the winter of 1959. It was also perhaps the shortest lived Mars, and was involved in a fatal crash into Mount Moriarty, near Parksville, killing all 4 crew on June 23, 1961.

Philippine Mars, which hasn't seen a fire since 2006, and Hawaii Mars are the two surviving planes out of the original four FIFT purchased.

Caroline Mars was damaged beyond repair in Victoria during Typhoon Freda, Oct 1962.

ETA: I may as well tell the rest of the story.

Daniel Erskine McIvor passed away February 24, 2005 at the age of 93. He was born August 30, 1911 in Killarney, Manitoba. During the war Dan served as a pilot in the RCAF. After his discharge in 1945, he flew the B.C. Coast as a bush pilot. In the 1960's he fulfilled a boyhood dream by arranging the purchase and conversion of four Martin Mars flying boats, the only ones of their kind in the world. He strongly believed that the safest and most effective way to fight forest fires, the ultimate clearcut, was from the air with large quantities of water. In recognition of his unique contribution to aviation, Dan received the Order of Canada from Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo at Government House in Victoria April 2004. (cut and paste from the Vancouver Sun)

McIvor Lake on northern Vancouver Island near Campbell River is named after him.
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby Glacier » Aug 5th, 2017, 11:35 am

There are now 4 fires over 50,000 hectares burning right now. Elephant Hill is over 100,000 and Hanceville over 150,000.
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time (West of the Rockies)

Postby Iamsomeone » Aug 5th, 2017, 8:04 pm

Drip_Torch wrote:
Wait what?

With all due respect Glacier, it appears you've compiled a list of the top 5 largest fires recorded during the BC Liberal government tenure.

Every now and then, I stand on a soap box and talk down the utility of the fire triangle as a public policy/wildfire discussion tool. In the words of George Box; “all models are wrong, but some models are useful.” One of the biggest weaknesses of viewing wildfire through the fire triangle is the limited number of outputs it stimulates. When the only elements we're discussing are heat, oxygen and fuel, the only output we're considering is burnt fuel . Personally I think the fire triangle is best left as an introductory model to very basic fire physics. Often times, in support of my argument I'll ask; which fire was larger, the OMP fire of 2003, or the Eg Fire of 1982? At 182,725 hectares burned, near the Liard River, the answer is obviously the Eg Fire, but was it?

Let's discuss the 1950's for a minute. The Chinchaga River (Wisp) Fire burned a total of 1,400,000 hectares. 90,000 hectares burned on the BC side of the border. That's a big fire - right? The Kech Fire burned 225,920 hectares in a tributary of the Liard River. That's a big fire too. But no-one, beyond us wildfire geeks, is even remotely aware of the fact they occurred, and they sure don't influence anyone's lives today. Yet, I can point to a fire in 1938 that only burned 30,406 hectares, in an epic 44 day battle, that is still influencing us and spawning heated conversations to this day.

That fire would be the Bloedel Fire between Campbell River and Sayward. (Often called the Sayward Fire, but the actual Sayward fire was a mere 834 hectares and burned in 1922) It was estimated the Bloedel Fire consumed 50,000 years of employment, based on 2,000 men working for 25 years. A stunning 5 billion board feet of timber forfeited. It was the first large scale use of the Canadian Military in wildfire suppression activities in BC, with three naval warships dispatched and over 1200 military personal utilized. Premier Pattullo, through Lands Minister Hon. A. Wells Gray, issued a number of orders closing the woods to both logging and recreational activities; issuing a further ban prohibiting all campfires.

Personally, I think the Bloedel fire is one of the five largest fires in BC history, due to the human elements that it shaped going forward. Premier Pattullo and Lands Minister Wells Gray, laid a framework that is still largely used to this day. They later created a new amendment to the Forest Act, that bound people engaged in logging operations to "dispose of slash to the satisfaction of the Chief Forester". Of course, the largest, most emotionally driven legacy we're still dealing with to this day; came in the form of an idea. An idea that took flight many years later with a conglomerate of forest companies lead by Bloedel - The Martin Mars as a water bomber.

When I look at wildfire, I see it through a model that includes two additional elements: the chemical chain reaction and the human element. I see outputs and outcomes, and I consider how it influences our lives, how it was catalyst for change, and how it shaped the way we govern ourselves.

Off the top of my head, and without any explanation, my list of the top 5 would be:

Vancouver Fire 1886
Fernie Fire 1908
Bloedel Fire 1938
Tat (Clowholm) Fire 1991
OMP 2003

Of course if you're strictly a size matters kind of person, you might want to look at the three I mentioned above and; Tee Fire (1971) 110,419 hectares, Lava Canyon (2009) 66,719.



ETA: This day in history was dubbed "Black Friday" - Friday July 22, 1938. Day 18 of the Bloedel Fire. Northwest winds gusting to 45 miles a hour caused the fire to double in size in eight hours.

Mrs. Fred White wrote: "We put in a night of terror... A great shroud of black smoke swept down upon us in a high wind and it became so dark that we turned on the lights at 6 o'clock in the evening."

Premier Pattullo sent out this radio message from Victoria to the Province: "The conflagration is the most serious in the history of the Province. Yesterday all logging operations in the area and all campfire permits were cancelled. The Government has taken every step for safety that can be devised to cope with the emergency, beyond this, we can only appeal to the co-operation of the public"


Interesting post Drip and it's great to hear the history. Lots to think about...
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time

Postby Glacier » Aug 10th, 2017, 10:43 am

Five largest fires ever recorded in all of BC:
1) Kech Wildfire occurred in 1958. 225,920 hectares burned in the Kechika Valley, a tributary of the Liard River.

2) Eg Wildfire occurred in 1982. 182,725 hectares burned near the Liard River/Alaska Highway area.

3) Hanceville Riske Creek fire in 2017, west of Williams Lake on the Chilcotin Plateau. Currently sitting at 172,000 hectares and growing. This fire destroyed many homes and businesses. Over 100 hydro poles were destroyed along with dozens of transformers.

4) Chelaslie River Wildfire in 2014, 7 kilometres south of the Chelaslie River in the Nechako area. It burned an area of 133,098 hectares (1,331 square kilometres), including sections of Entiako Provincal Park. This fire resulted in several evacuation alerts and orders.

5) Elephant Hill fire in 2017, started near Ashcroft. Currently at 117,000 hectares and growing. This fire destroyed numerous homes.
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time

Postby Glacier » Aug 13th, 2017, 3:18 pm

6 largest of all time in BC, and the only ones to ever climb above 100,000 hectares.

1) Kech Wildfire occurred in 1958. 225,920 hectares.
2) Hanceville Riske Creek Wildfire in 2017. 193,894 hectares and growing
3) Eg Wildfire occurred in 1982. 182,725 hectares .
4) Elephant Hill Wildfire in 2017. 149,914 hectares and growing.
5) Chelaslie River Wildfire in 2014. 133,098 hectares.
6) Baezaeko River Wildfire in 2017. 124,306 hectares and growing.
7) Tautri Wildfire in 2017. 110,457 hectares and growing.
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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time

Postby ferri » Aug 21st, 2017, 9:25 am

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Re: Top 5 Largest Fires of All Time

Postby Glacier » Aug 21st, 2017, 11:49 am

List of the 5 largest fires of all time in BC:

1) Plateau Wildfire at 467,278 hectares in 2017
2) Hanceville Riske Creek Wildfire at 227,051 hectares in 2017
3) Kech Wildfire at 225,920 hectares in 1958
4) Eg Wildfire at 182,725 hectares in 1982
5) Elephant Hill Wildfire at 168,092 hectares in 2017

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