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10 Worst Wildfires in Modern Arizona History

A photo firefighter Andrew Ashcraft sent to his wife before Ashcroft and 18 of his colleagues died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire this weekend.
A photo firefighter Andrew Ashcraft sent to his wife before Ashcroft and 18 of his colleagues died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire this weekend.
Juliann Ashcraft via breakingnews.com

The Yarnell Hill Fire burning southwest of Prescott is, by far, the deadliest wildfire in the history of Arizona.

While a few wildfires in Arizona's history are marked by tragedy, others will be remembered more for their quirks -- like the Sunflower Fire last year, started by a guy shooting off a novelty shotgun shell during a bachelor party. Check out our list of the 10 worst wildfires in modern Arizona history:

10.) Warm Fire

10 Worst Wildfires in Modern Arizona History

Toll: 59,000 acres

On June 8th, 2006, lightning struck the Kaibab Pleateu in northern Arizona. The Forest Service let it burn as a managed fire to shape the area, with their first large-scale "Wildland Fire Use" plan. That plan was scrapped about two weeks later, when the fire developed into a full-blown wildfire.

9.) Lone Fire

10 Worst Wildfires in Modern Arizona History

Toll: 61,000 acres

In 1996, near the Four Peaks Wilderness, two campers left a campfire smoldering. Eleven days and 61,000 acres later, Arizona had its largest wildfire in at least 25 years (hence our list of wildfires in modern Arizona history). While reporters for both the Associated Press and the Arizona Republic called it the largest fire in 25 years in reports at the time, neither mentioned a single detail about the fire that occurred 25 years prior. The Forest Service says it was the largest in the state's history at the time.

8.) Aspen Fire

10 Worst Wildfires in Modern Arizona History

Toll: 84,750 acres, 340 buildings

This fire burned for a month in 2003, in and around the small community of Summerhaven, near the top of Mt. Lemmon in Tucson. Dozens of homes and businesses were ruined by the fire. Even during our most recent visit, about a month ago, we noted that the fire damage was still evident, with dozens of burned trees lined up behind newer cabin-homes.

7.) Willow Fire

10 Worst Wildfires in Modern Arizona History

Toll: 119,500 acres

The 2004 Willow Fire (not to be confused with the Wallow Fire), which was caused by lightning, was a near-disaster, as it came within two miles of Payson, before being contained and extinguished.



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