Deadliest fires and explosions in U.S. history

Rank 

Event 

Date  

Number of deaths

1

The World Trade Center
New York, NY

September 11, 2001

2,666  

2

S.S. Sultana steamship boiler explosion and fire
Mississippi River

April 27, 1865 

1,547  

3

Forest fire
Peshtigo, WI, and envions

October 8, 1871  

1,152  

4

General Slocum excursion steamship fire (PDF, 774 KB)
New York, NY

June 15, 1904

1,030

5

Iroquois Theater
Chicago, IL

December 30, 1903

602

6

Forest fire
Cloquet, MN, and environs

October 12, 1918

559

7

Cocoanut Grove night club

November 28, 1942

492

8

S.S. Grandcamp and Monsanto Chemical Company plant
Texas City, TX

April 16, 1947

468

9

Forest fire
Hinckley, MN, and environs

September 1, 1894

418

10

Monongha Mine coal mine explosion
Monongha, WV

December 6, 1907

361

11

North German Lloyd lines steamship
Hoboken, NJ

June 30, 1900

326

12

Munitions ships and depot explosion
Port Chicago, CA

July 17, 1944

322

13

Ohio State Penitentiary
Columbus, OH

April 21, 1930

320

14

Earthquake and fire
San Francisco, CA

April 18, 1906

315*

15

Consolidated School gas explosion (PDF, 826 KB)
New London, TX

March 18, 1937

294

16

Conway's Theater
Brooklyn, NY

December 5, 1876

285

17

Coal mine explosion
Mather, PA

May 19, 1928

273

18

Coal mine explosion
Dawson, NM

October 22, 1913

263

19

St. Paul Mine coal mine explosion
Cherry, IL

November 13, 1909

259

20

Great Chicago Fire
Chicago, IL

October 8-9, 1871 250

* Estimates for this incident are quite varied, with estimates as high as 800; no estimates separate fire from non-fire deaths.
Disclaimer: Death tolls are based on information in NFPA’s records. Please contact us at osds@nfpa.org to provide any updated information.

Source: NFPA archive files, 1984 Fire Alamanac, National Safety Council's Accident Facts, and The Great International Disaster Book by James Cornell, Pocket Books New York, 1976.

Updated: 12/02

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