100 Fires Project

What is the 100 Fires project?

This project, and a few old hotshot superintendents behind it, intend to build a timeline of the 100 fires that every wildland firefighter should know about. These fires tell the history of wildfire in this country; these fires shaped the evolution of the wildland fire service; and finally these fires claimed many lives... we want to honor those lives and carry those hard earned lessons forward.

With any such "timeline" there will need to be a set of criteria to decide which events to include. We realize that any timeline has a subjective element to it and not everyone will agree with every event included or excluded. This is not a timeline of the "biggest fires" or even the "most important" fires. It is, however, a timeline of fires that meet one or more of these criteria: was historically significant; made a notable impact across the wildland fire service; caused three or more wildland firefighter fatalities by entrapment; or caused a civilian mass casualty event.
You can find hotshot line-of-duty death summaries by clicking here.

Relic Era Fires

Relic Era fires are significant events during the century leading up to 1910. This was a time when the population of this country was rapidly expanding into the wildlands and before any organized wildland firefighting capability existed. While a few of these fires are recognized by today’s fire personnel, many of these fires are forgotten history.



Historic Era Fires

Historic Era fires are significant events from 1911 up to 1959. The start date for this era was selected because the year 1911 marks the passage of the Weeks Act by Congress following the Great Fires of 1910 in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes states. One significant element of this legislation provided for cooperative forest fire protection between the states and the federal government.



Modern Era Fires

Modern Era fires are significant events from 1960 up to 1994. The start date for this era was selected because the 1956 Inaja Fire tragedy led to the 1957 Task Force Report to Recommend Action to Reduce the Chances of Men Being Killed by Burning While Fighting Fire. This Task Force proposed the "10 Standard Firefighting Orders" along with many other operational improvements that were being implemented by 1960.



Current Era Fires

Current Era fires are significant events since 1995. The start date for this era was selected because the 1994 South Canyon Fire tragedy led to the 1995 Interagency Management Review Team Report and the subsequent 1998 TriData Study. The recommendations from these endeavors were the catalyst for a variety of organizational change initiatives that have shaped the current wildland fire service.



This 100 Fires Project has been a collaborative effort with the Interagency Hotshot Crew community. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has graciously agreed to host the project timeline on their website. This project is a work in progress; some of the fires on the list do not yet have summaries written for them. If you have questions or comments please contact the Managing Editors for the 100 Fires Project: