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Died in a Forest Fire

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  • Samuel G. Goodyear (c.1821 - 1857)
    Samuel Goodyear was born in 1821 in Moulton, Lincolnshire, England. He was the son of John Goodyear and Ann Walton. Samuel married Mary Ann Christian and emmigrated from England to Michigan, USA in Aug...
  • Joseph Henry Frossard (1914 - 1944)
    Obituary found at:

Please add the profiles of those who died in or as a result of a forest fire.


  • Please feel free to create a project for a specific forest fire “event” and link it to this project.
  • If they died on the job, such as Firefighters, please add them to this project: Firefighters
  • See also: Great Fire of 1871
  • If they died as a result of other causes that may have contributed to a forest fire, please add them to that project (such as lightening).
  • If questions about which project to add the profile to, please bring it to our attention in this discussion: Cause of Death Projects needed???

Deaths can result from being burned to death; as a result of asphyxiation; from injuries or other health conditions they sustained in an attempt to escape the fire.

Wildfire risk is the chance that a wildfire will start in or reach a particular area and the potential loss of human values if it does. Risk is dependent on variable factors such as human activities, weather patterns, availability of wildfire fuels, and the availability or lack of resources to suppress a fire.

Airborne hazards

  • The most noticeable adverse effect of wildfires is the destruction of property. However, the release of hazardous chemicals from the burning of wildland fuels also significantly impacts health in humans.
  • Wildfire smoke is composed primarily of carbon dioxide and water vapor. Other common smoke components present in lower concentrations are carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, acrolein, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and benzene.
  • The degree of wildfire smoke exposure to an individual is dependent on the length, severity, duration, and proximity of the fire. People are exposed directly to smoke via the respiratory tract though inhalation of air pollutants. Indirectly, communities are exposed to wildfire debris that can contaminate soil and water supplies.

Post-fire risks

  • After a wildfire, hazards remain. Residents returning to their homes may be at risk from falling fire-weakened trees. Humans and pets may also be harmed by falling into ash pits.

Groups at risk

  • Firefighters are at the greatest risk for acute and chronic health effects resulting from wildfire smoke exposure.
  • Residents in communities surrounding wildfires are exposed to lower concentrations of chemicals, but they are at a greater risk for indirect exposure through water or soil contamination.
  • Exposure to residents is greatly dependent on individual susceptibility. Vulnerable persons such as children (ages 0–4), the elderly (ages 65 and older), smokers, and pregnant women are at an increased risk due to their already compromised body systems, even when the exposures are present at low chemical concentrations and for relatively short exposure periods.
  • Additionally, there is evidence of an increase in maternal stress, as documented by researchers M.H. O'Donnell and A.M. Behie, thus affecting birth outcomes. In Australia, studies show that male infants born with drastically higher average birth weights were born in mostly severely fire-affected areas. This is attributed to the fact that maternal signals directly affect fetal growth patterns.

Statistics:

  1. Wildland Fire Fatalities by Year (1910-2017)
  2. The Statistics Portal - The 10 most significant wildfire events based on the number of fatalities from 1900 to 2016 This statistic shows the number of fatalities resulting from significant wildfires around the world between 1900 and 2016.
  • 1. United States, forest fire (15 Oct 1918) - 1,000
  • 2. Indonesia, forest fire (Sept 1997) - 240
  • 3. China, forest fire (May 1987) - 191
  • 4. Australia, bush/brush fire (2 Feb 2009) - 180
  • 5. United States, forest fire (20 Oct 1944) - 121
  • 6. France (Aug 1949) - 80
  • 7. Australia, scrub/grassland fire (16 Feb 1983) - 75
  • 8. Canada, forest fire (11 July 1911) - 73
  • 9. Australia, scrub/grassland fire (1939) - 71
  • 10. Greece, forest fire (24 Aug 2007) - 65

Inhaling smoke from forest, grass and peat fires causes about 340,000 premature deaths worldwide every year, according to new research. Reducing the number and extent of human- induced landscape fires could significantly improve air quality, mitigate climate change and reduce the rate of biodiversity loss, say scientists.

Most of those deaths are concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 157,000 people die as a result of being exposed to such fires annually, with southeast Asia ranking second with 110,000 deaths.

Resources & Additional Reading:

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