Aug 16, 2021
This Episode is sponsored by Wachter.
Welcome to episode 14 of Fire Code Tech! In this episode we are talking about the great Peshtigo fire the deadliest wildfire in America’s history. In this episode we are discussing another historic fire from over 150 years ago. We speak about the firestorm and the devastation caused to Peshtigo a lumber town in northern Wisconsin.
Hello. Welcome to the solo cast of fire code tech in these episodes. It's just gonna be me, your host, Gus Gagliardi. There's gonna be a range of topics, but I'm gonna talk about specific technologies, installation, standards, codes, and how they work as well as some other interesting topics that don't neatly fit inside of the context of a normal interview.
Hello, all welcome to episode 14. Fire code. On this episode, we're talking about the Pesh to go fire. Don't forget to follow us on social media and subscribe. So you never miss an episode. Also, if you could give us a five star review on apple podcast, it would be a huge help to the podcast. This episode is sponsored by wa a little bit more from our sponsors later on in the show.
I wanted to do another episode on historical fires and, uh, there's been a lot of information in the news recently. Wildfire. So I thought I'd take a different turn on, uh, the structure theme usually of this podcast and talk about the natural environment and fires in the more natural elements. So the Pesco fire is the deadliest fire in American history.
Uh, the reason why you probably haven't heard of it is. It happened on the same day as the great Chicago fire, despite being much deadlier than the Chicago fire, the Pego fire had much less publicity because there were simply fewer survivors pictures of the town. After the Blas looked like the whole city had been bombed at the time of the recording of this podcast.
We are just a week away from the hundred and 50th anniversary of the Peshtigo fire. The fire occurred in October 8th, 1870. And the reason why it's called PECO fire is because the, the name of the town, which was a lumber town in which the, the blaze started near to give some context of where this wildfire was in the us.
That Peshtigo is just north of green bay, Wisconsin. About 45 minutes. North Peshtigo is right near one of the great lakes. Uh, more specifically lake Michigan. There's a river that runs through the town of Peshtigo, which is the Peshtigo river. Tired of me saying PGO yet. Well, we still got some time left.
The estimated death toll of this fire was anywhere from 1200 to 2,500 people making it without a doubt. One of the deadliest fire or explosion events in us history in 1871, the town was a boom town because of the lumber mills. All of the industrial operations centered on the great resource, which was the pine trees of the region.
The population of the town in specific was about 1700 people. Fire is always of risk in a lumber town, and there were many parts of peas culture that was well acquainted with dealing with fires. They even had pumper trucks for extinguishing flames. The town of Peshtigo had a factory, which created all sorts of goods with the lumber that was brought down the Peshtigo river.
They made brooms rolling pins and many other goods. And they, and, uh, from my research, I learned that there was tremendous amounts of sawdust from all the lumber activities I wanted to touch on this point, because we're all well aware of now in 2021. Of the hazards associated with, uh, combustible dust and wood milling operations.
And we can say with some surety that they did not have, uh, you know, housekeeping procedures or dust collectors back in the 1870s, generally this region was very wet. And so, and when there was a wildfire. They would not go for very long before. It would be extinguished. The year had been an especially dry one.
They did not receive the snow or rain that they generally expected within a given year. There were many burning operations such as clearing the forest with fire and, uh, open fires were a ubiquitous part of everyday life for these people that were on the fringe of society out in the woods with these lumber operations.
The floor of the woods near Peshtigo were littered with pine needles from the stress trees dropping their needles, as well as many of the lumber operations that were going on in the region. During this ation, the fire burned over 1.2 million acres of land. The town of Pesh to go was built almost entirely out of wood, including the bridge on either side of the.
There was an incredible cold front and warm front that came together only to exacerbate the wildfire that raged want to take a moment to talk about our sponsor today. Waner Waner is a family owned business to provide services in many commercial and industrial market sectors, including electrical and fire alarm systems, the internet of things, digital transformation, and much, much more blocker is headquartered out of Lenexa, Kansas, but is decentralized in that they.
Technicians across the nation. They're looking for good candidates for fire alarm technicians in a variety of locations across the us. You can find out the details of these jobs and much more about Waner on waner.com/careers. That's w a C HT E r.com/careers. Let's get back to the show. Another really fascinating thing about the fire at Peshtigo was that it is one of the first firestorms in recorded.
For those of you who don't know about firestorms? I didn't really, until I started investigating this fire, it is a natural phenomenon. Um, and the easiest way I could describe it would be a tornado mixed with a large, uh, wildfire or a configuration. And so there are a couple common fire phenomenon involved with the fire.
uh, the first one would be stack effect. So, uh, this kind of buoyancy, uh, natural buoyancy associated with the fire in combination with the, uh, strong wind and, um, the front, that was a big effect in this instance. And so, as you can imagine, this is a very, uh, deadly combination. Doesn't really, uh, affect the spread of the fire as much as it does the, the brutal intensity of the, of the fire in the place in which there is a firestorm.
Um, so yeah, there was a bunch of studying done on the firestorm aspect of this fire. Um, and there are frequently referenced correlations to bombing in world war II and trying to recreate some of these firestorm effects. There are a bunch of grizzly accounts from this fire of people trying to hide in the river at the PECO river in order to escape the blaze and drowning or succumbing to hypothermia, uh, because the flames were so intense outside.
Of the water that people could still, uh, burn alive, even though they were partially, uh, submerged. I thought, uh, you know, I don't know how much to take into account all of these different, um, things from the, you know, over a hundred years ago. Uh, definitely I've taken some of them with the grain of salt on the accounts of.
Things burning and fusing, but I know that the temperatures and the, uh, fire effects for, uh, confirmation of this size are, um, pretty intense. There's an interesting theory about the PECO and the Chicago fire. That they were both started by a comment that was in the area at the time. The name of the comment in question was Bah's comment.
And it's pretty interesting. There are some people in who study space in aeronautical societies that discuss the possibility of be less common being the source of both the Chicago and Pesco fires. Uh, both of these fires were extremely fast, starting and happened. Uh, essentially simultaneously both of these fires don't really have an explanation for how they started the great Chicago fire has a interesting explanation with Mr.
Mrs. O'Leary's cows. Start in the fire, but I don't know if I buy that. There's not a lot of real credible resources that indicate that the meteor, the meteorite theory has much teeth to it. But I think it's an interesting idea effectively if the meteor was large enough to, uh, cause a fire probably would've had to be bigger than the, the one in Bilas case, the aftermath that the PE Togo fire was, I.
There was a mass grave with, uh, 350 up the bodies that were burned beyond recognition. Anyways, if you would like to learn more about the PECO fire, I'll include some links down below in the description. I think it's interesting that N F P only ranks ranks the Peshtigo fire as number three, um, behind, uh, two other, uh, explosions slash the number one being the world trade center, which I.
Necessarily, uh, categorize in the same, um, subject as, uh, wildfire or an explosion, but, uh, and they only count the number of deaths at, uh, 1,152. Um, so I find that interesting, but that concludes our discussion of the pest to go fire the deadliest wildfire in America's. Uh, hope you enjoyed that and we'll see you next time on fire code tech.
Thanks for listening everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional.
If you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again, and we'll see you next time.