Largest forest wildfire (single fire)
Daxing’anling Wildfire, Chinchaga Fire
1,200,000 hectare(s)
Not Applicable ()

Wildfires come in several forms and can be measured in various ways. They are notoriously difficult to compare, particularly between those from different eras and those in remote regions where the accuracy of equipment and techniques vary drastically. The most likely largest single forest fire in recorded history is between two contenders. The Chinchaga Fire started in logging slash in British Columbia, Canada, on 1 June 1950 that grew out of control and ended five months later on 31 October in Alberta; in that time, it burned approximately 1.2 million hectares (3 million acres) of boreal forest. The 1987 Daxing’anling Wildfire (aka Great Black Dragon Fire), which raged through the Greater Khingan mountain range of north-east China and across the border into the Siberian USSR (now Russia) between 6 May and 2 June 1987, is thought to have burned a similar-sized area of pine forest. It’s reported that the Great Black Dragon Fire killed more than 200 people, injured more than 250 and left tens of thousands displaced.

This was most likely part of the largest forest fire mega-complex, or regional outbreak, too. At the same time as the Daxing’anling Wildfire, forest fires also raged across the border in Siberian Russia; satellite data suggests as much as 13–15 million hectares (32.1–37 million acres) of taiga were affected. If you combine that with the Chinese fire, you get a total coverage for the region of some 16–18 million hectares (39.5–44.5 million acres).