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7 October 2009

On this day in history: Miramichi Fire, 1825

On 7th October 1825, after over two month drought, a multitude of forest fires broke out across New Brunswick, Canada. South-westerly winds connected these small fires together into a massive conflagration, and soon these fires approached areas of human habitation. While the troops and men of Fredericton fought a blaze near the house of the Commissioner of Crown Lands the fire reached the town and set it ablaze.

Governor Douglas ordered the troops and men to return to the town but when they arrived they realised they were too late: strong wins fanned the flames that quickly consumed the wooden buildings. Fortunately the wind changed direction saving most of the town. Other settlements were not so lucky: in Newcastle only 12 buildings out of 260 survived; in the village of Douglastown only six of the original seventy escaped the blaze; the people of Moorefield, Napan, and Black River suffered similar losses.

Residents of towns and villages along the Miramichi River took to the water for refuge, taking their livestock with them. Around 160 people were not so fortunate being caught by the fires. In all the flames consumed approximately 6,000 square miles (16,0000 square kilometres) of forest.

The Charlotte Taylor: Her Life Her Times website includes several contemporary accounts on the "Miramichi Fire of 1825".

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