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The Great Miramichi Fire refers to a massive forest fire (or series of fires) which devastated forests and communities throughout much of northern New Brunswickmarker in October 1825. It ranks among the three largest forest fires ever recorded in North America. About 1/3 of the homes in Frederictonmarker were destroyed, but the main devastation was to the northeast. On the evening of October 7, 1825, the firestorm roared through Newcastle, New Brunswickmarker (now part of the City of Miramichimarker), and in less than 3 hours reduced the town of 1,000 people to ruins - of 260 original buildings, only 12 remained. Only 6 of 70 buildings survived in the adjacent village of Douglastownmarker. The fire similarly destroyed other communities, including Moorefield, Napan, and Black River. Chathammarker, Nelson, and Doaktownmarker escaped the fire. The cause of the blaze is not known, but was likely of human origin.

To escape the blaze many residents took refuge with livestock and wildlife in the Miramichi Rivermarker - about 160 people died in and around Newcastle, including prisoners in the Newcastle Jail. Elsewhere, the totals were likely higher, given the number of lumbermen in the forests at the time (about 3000).

In total the fire(s) consumed almost 16,000 km² (about 1/5 of New Brunswick's forests). The blaze has been partly attributed to unusually hot weather in the fall and summer of 1825, coupled with outdoor fires by settlers and loggers.

The communities were soon rebuilt, but many of those affected moved to communities bordering the Bay of Chaleurmarker, including Campbelltonmarker, Dalhousiemarker, Belledunemarker, and the southern Gaspémarker coast. It is also probable that some of the displaced persons established a community in the Ottawa Valley formerly known as Miramichi, now known as Pembroke, Ontariomarker. Although the lumber industry recovered, the fire is considered responsible for the end of the mast-making industry on the Miramichi Rivermarker.

The event is immortalised in the 1959 Folkways Records recording of Miramichi Fire, a traditional folksong included on the album Folksongs of Maine.

The fire is also the centerpiece of Valerie Sherrard's first historical novel, Three Million Acres of Flame.


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