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Tuesday, 24 August 2004

Could A Meteorite or Comet Cause All The Fires of 1871?

Could A Meteorite or Comet Cause All The Fires of 1871?

Paul H bristolia at
Tue Aug 24 12:26:49 EDT 2004

In Could A Meteorite or Comet Cause All The Fires of
Sterling K. Webb wrote:

"These strange fires were not restricted
to the IL-WI-MI triangle centered around
the southern end of Lake Michigan. Because
of the slowness of communication in 1871,
it was not immediately recognized that the
fires of October 8, 1871 were scattered
over parts of seven states and Canada and
may have caused as many as 10,000 deaths."

I would be interested to know where the claim that the

fire actually started in seven states and Canada
simultaneously. From what I seen written in well-
researched books on the 1871 fire, i.e. "Michigan On
Fire" by Betty Sodders in 1997, the fact of the matter
is that fires outside IL-WI-MI area were occurring and

started well before October 8 and had been occurring
all Fall because of the hot and dry weather that had
created a drought that was devastating in its own
If a person looks at the historical record, he or she
would find that it is an absolute misrepresentation of

it in stating that these fires all started
with the October 8 fire. The so-called "instantaneous"
"simultaneous" nature of the fire, from what I have
seen, is pure fiction created by shoddy research and
wishful thinking on the part of advocates of the comet

impact theory, who seem to be rather ill-informed of
the actual chronology of forest fires in 1871.

For example, a person can read "The Fire that
Holland, Michigan" at:

In terms of the so-called "simultaneous" nature of the
1871 fire, the web page noted:

"There had already been a threat of danger
earlier in the week. Fires kept smoldering
and burned barns and houses, but the danger
seemed to be far from the city. Then on
Sunday, October 9, there were reports that
a threatening forest fire was coming."


"The community at the time was populated with
2400 residents and for many days previous,
these residents had battled and beaten many
small fires that had erupted throughout the

It is quite clear that fires were starting within the
area of the 1871 fire days, even weeks, before October
The fire of 1871 simply didn't magically appear on
8, 1871 out of nowhere but was preceded by numerous
smaller fires days, even weeks, before it occurred.

Even more interesting comments about the 1871 fire
can be found in "History & Ecology of Fire in Michigan

Wildland Fire In Michigan". at:,1607,7-153-10367_11851-24038--,00.html

This web page stated:

"It was not a single fire but a combination
of hundreds of fires, small and large, that
had been burning unattended for weeks, only
to flare up and unite when conditions became

This statement totally demolishes the case for a
meteorite or comet, as the 1871 didn't start on Oct.
1871. Rather the "1871 fire" on October 8 occurred
it exploded into a firestorm when fires only after
for days, even weeks, before that date. Oct 8 was
the point that these fires, as they coalesced,
the critical mass needed to explode into massive

The historical record also clearly demonstrates the
source of these fires. For example, the "History &
Ecology of Fire in Michigan Wildland Fire In Michigan"

web page stated:

"Set carelessly or by settlers in clearing
land, fires burned everywhere, and ran
uncontrolled into the woods and swamps
where they continued to smolder."

Also, the "The Fire that Destroyed Holland, Michigan"
web page stated:

"In the fall of 1871, the ground was very
dry after the long summer. The summer had
been very hot and dry and some areas hadn't
had rain since June. In Holland, fires
began in the piles of sawdust, waste wood,
and finished lumber in the yards of the
city's several sawmills, and the winds
quickly spread the flames throughout the
town. The small spark ignited the piles
of wood and spread to become one of
Michigan's most widespread forest fire."

These quotes point out the fact that that Michigan was
having problems with outbreaks of smaller fires, weeks

before October 8. The fire simply didn't magically,
simultaneously start on that date, but rather
small fires, which had been burning for weeks before
October 8, came together on that date. The fact that
smaller fires were burning many days prior to October
refutes the claim that everything simultaneously burst

into flame on that date and the so-called anomalous
nature of the fire. It is quite obvious that long
October 8, this region was having major problems with
outbreaks of multiple, ongoing fires.

The "History & Ecology of Fire in Michigan Wildland
Fire In Michigan" stated:

"Michigan was extensively logged toward the
end of the 19th century. The White Pine that
had once covered Michigan was cut, followed
by the hardwood forests, and large expanses
of slash (the branches and other debris left
after logging) were left behind. Many areas
were cleared for farming, and the vegetation
was burned to dispose of it. Several catastrophic
fires resulted from the indiscriminate burning
of slash following logging and land clearing
for agriculture."


"In the summer of 1871, a drought occurred over
much of the Great Lakes region. Slash and debris
from logging and land clearing became tinder-dry
during the months without rain. From early
August no rain fell, pastures and gardens dried
up, wells went dry, streams shrank to a mere
trickle, and crops failed."

These conditions, i.e. the abundance of fuel, created
careless logging techniques and forest land
the hot and dry weather and massive drought; and the
careless use of fire to clear land made for an ideal
situation for the development of a catastrophic fire.

In fact, a fire similar in magnitude to the 1871 fire
occurred tens years later in September of 1881 in the
Thumb area of Michigan. It was more serve, caused more

damage, and made more people to be homeless than the
1871 fire.

About the 1881 fire, the "History & Ecology of Fire in

Michigan Wildland Fire In Michigan" stated:

"Like the 1871 fire, the fire of 1881 came
at the end of an extremely severe drought
and was the result of hundreds of land-clearing
fires whipped into a seething cauldron of flame
by high winds."

This discussion reminds me of a "mysterious" sinking
of the Sandra that allegedly sank in a calm sea
any distress signal as described by Charles Berlitz in

his book "The Bermuda Triangle". When Larry Kusche
looked into this disappearance, he found that the ship

was half as long as the book stated and it disappeared

in the middle of a hurricane. In this case, as in the
1871 fires, the mystery disappears when the
misinformation and folklore is replaced by documented


Baton Rouge, LA

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