The Peshtigo Fire Museum. (Royalbroil/Wikimedia Commons)
What Caused The Peshtigo Fire?
When the Peshtigo Fire finally burned itself out, around 2,500 people (more than half the city’s population) were dead, most of them burned beyond recognition and consigned to a mass grave, and an area of land the size of Connecticut was destroyed. To add insult to injury, when survivors asked the public for help in the cleanup, recovery, and rebuilding efforts, they found that resources were overwhelmingly being directed to the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire, which happened on the same day. In fact, an unusual number of fires occurred in the region, including the Michigan cities of Holland, Manistee, Alpena, and Port Huron. This was likely due to drought conditions and high winds in the area, but some cite explanations as far-fetched as meteor showers (which weren’t reported that day and have never been known to cause fires, F.Y.I.).