This project, and a few old hotshot superintendents behind it, endeavor to build a list of the 100 fires that every wildland firefighter should know about. The fires on the list tell the history of wildfire in this country; the fires on this list shaped the evolution of the wildland fire service; and finally the fires on this list claimed many lives... we want to honor those lives and carry those hard earned lessons forward. With any such "list" there will need to be a set of criteria to decide which events to include. We realize that any list has a subjective element to it and not everyone will agree with every event included or excluded. This is not a list of the "biggest fires" or even the "most important" fires. It is, however, a list 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; caused a civilian mass casualty event; or caused a hotshot crew member line of duty death.
Relic Era fires are significant events during the century leading up to 1910. The end 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. This legislation provided for cooperative forest fire protection between the states and the federal government; with the U.S. Forest Service mandated to conduct federal fire control efforts.
Historic Era fires are significant events from 1911 up to 1959. The end 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 implemented during the early 1960s.
Modern Era fires are significant events from 1960 up to 1994. The end date for this era was selected because the 1994 South Canyon Fire tragedy led to the 1995 Interagency Management Review Team Report. This team's recommendations were the catalyst for a variety of organizational change initiatives that have shaped the current wildland fire service.
Current Era fires are significant events since 1995. These recent fires are generally well known to most current fire operations personnel and meet at least one of the specific criteria to be included in the 100 Fires Project.
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: