Can You Imagine? – Wildfires in Pennsylvania Burned With Intensity

It shocks the sensibilities of the modern reader who is used to a twenty-four hour news cycle and video coverage of even minor events, that fires of the magnitude described in The Carbon Advocate on May 15, 1880 was not described in more detail.

Twenty thousand acres have been burned over by forest fires in Pike and Monroe counties.

The acreage burned over was in all probability not a single fire, but probably multiple fires. According to DCNR, Bureau of Forestry records total fire acreage for the entire state has not exceeded 20,000 acres since 1964.

That May destructive forest fires were raging in Indiana County, near the county seat of the same name. During the same month not only forests burned but the boroughs of Milton in Lycoming County, and Coudersport in Potter County, suffered serious fires which destroyed most of the towns. The fires, however, were not a result of wildfires. However the hot dry conditions that caused the flammability of the forests contributed to the desiccation of the wooden structures, allowing them to easily catch fire and burn.

2 thoughts on “Can You Imagine? – Wildfires in Pennsylvania Burned With Intensity”

  1. Can you tell me what year the forest fire occurred near Seneca Point in the current Cook Forest Park ? As I child (in the 1960’s) I remember reading a sign along the Fire Tower road that put it prior to 1900, and that “growth is still slow here”. The sign is long gone, unfortunately.

    1. There were several serious fires in the area in 1894 and 1895. That was not uncommon, as fires would burn one year, kill trees leaving dead fuel behind, and the following year(s) fire would burn the dry fuel left behind. The fires would burn the humus down to mineral soil and despite the fertility of the ashes, plant growth would be slow to reestablish.

      Other notorious fires in the area burned in 1887, 1891, and 1910.

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