Top 10 Biggest Fires In The World


Great fires are disastrous events, which quickly spread around the cities destroying everything within their reach. Fires are uncontrollable by

humans, and this is why the biggest of them lead to enormous losses of human lives and property. From the Great Fire of Rome dating far back in history to fires of more recent days, here is our list of 10 biggest fires in the world.


10. Boston Fire, 1872

Boston Fire Top 10 Biggest Fires In The World

The fire in Boston cannot be compared to larger fires on the list in terms of human or residential property losses, but it is known to be the most expensive of fires in American history and one of the biggest fires in the world in terms of property damage. The fire spread around the downtown area of Boston in 1872, destroying financial districts, office building, stores, and so on, leaving hundreds of people unemployed and 20 people dead. 

9. Fires of Amsterdam, 1421 & 1452

Fires of Amsterdam

During the 15th century, Amsterdam suffered not from one, but two great fires. The first “city fire” happened in 1421, followed by the fire of 1452. The fires quickly spread over the city, where houses and buildings were made of wood. After the fire of 1452, which destroyed 75% of the city, only wooden facades at the front and back of the buildings were allowed in order to prevent Amsterdam from a repetition of tragic events. 

8. Great Fire of New York, 1776

Great Fire of New York Big Fire

This major fire in New York happened during the Revolutionary War in the United States. According to the history, in the summer, the officers of the Revolutionary army made a decision to burn the city down instead of fighting against British military forces. After the majority rejected the idea, the officers left New York. However, less than a week after British occupied the city, a fire started in the Fighting Cocks Tavern, destroying 493 houses. 

7. San Francisco Fire, 1906

San Francisco Fire, 1906

The fire in San Francisco is related to the earthquake that hit the city on April 18, 1906. Historians consider this earthquake one of the largest in American history. However, a lack of professionalism and complications in local fire department were yet another factor that contributed to the city destruction. The firefighters used dynamites to create firebreaks on largely intact buildings did not have proper equipment due to the budget allocation, and lost their leader, Dennis Sullivan, in the earthquake. San Francisco recovered faster than anyone would expect, showing almost no trace of the incident after ten years. 

6. The Great Fire of Copenhagen, 1728

The Great Fire of Copenhagen Big City Fire

This Great Fire burned from the night of October 20 until the morning of October 23 in Copenhagen, Denmark. It ended up destroying nearly 75% of the city and being one of the biggest fires in the world and the biggest in Denmark’s history. About fifth of Copenhagen residents lost their property in the fire of 1728. Apart from human and property losses, the city’s cultural heritage encountered severe damages, from historical documents to medieval architecture

5. Fire of Chicago, 1871

Fire of Chicago Biggest Fire

The fire of Chicago in 1871 started in a barn on the O’Leary property and was foolishly reported by one of the journalists at the time to have started by a cow kicking over the lantern. However, the researchers seem to argue, suggesting smoking inside the barn as the factor that instigated the fire. The tragedy lead to deaths of 300 people, spreading quite slowly around the city but left 90,000 people homeless. On the 40th anniversary of the fire, the National fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the event. 

4. Fire of Moscow, 1812

Fire of Moscow Top 10 Biggest Fires In The World

After the defeat of his army in Borodino battle during the French invasion of Russia in 1812, Napoleon went to Moscow with a goal to conquer the city. Moscow, to the French leader’s surprise, did not show any resistance to his intrusion. Instead, Napoleon received reports about small fires within the city, which on the next day turned into a great fire, burning down three-quarters of Russian capital and killing around 12,000 people. The most popular theory is that the fire was instigated by Russians who were unable to protect the city with military force and decided to burn out the French. 

3. The Great Fire of Rome, 64 A.D.

The Great Fire of Rome Biggest City Fires

The Great Fire of Rome started during the night between July 18 and 19, in 64 A.D. Due to the wind, the fire quickly spread over the city. It was stopped only after six days, having left around seventy percent of the city in ruins. The reasons behind the urban fire are unknown because the primary accounts of the event did not survive until the present day. Different stories blame Emperor Nero or Christians for their secret wish to destroy the city, whereas others suggest that the fire was an accident. 

2. The Great Fire of London, 1666

The Great Fire of London, 1666

The Great Fire of London in 1666 started at one man’s bakery. Thomas Farriner, the owner of a bakery on Pudding Lane, noticed the fire in his house, attached to the bakery, after midnight on September 2. Local authorities were hesitant in creating the firebreaks to prevent the spread of the fire, and by the next day, the fire spread north and later through most of the city. Londoners at that time blamed homeless foreigners for the incident. 

1. Fire of Tokyo, 1923

Fire of Tokyo Biggest Fire In The World

The violent fire in Tokyo, Japan, in 1923, like the fire of San Francisco, was a result of a massive earthquake. The fire and the earthquake combined took lives of 142,000 people, with around 38,000 lives lost in the fire only, making the incident take the first place on our list of the biggest fires in the world. The devastating effect was intensified by the earthquake striking at lunchtime, causing fires in people’s homes, which then spread around the city because of the typhoon coming from the coast.

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