Seems like the West is burning up right now, a not uncommon occurrence in today's world. I have read much about the old West, and significant events like Earthquakes, Storms, and such are pretty well documented. But outside of old West towns burning up by fire, I've not read much documentation about major forest fires in that time.
Do you know of any?
CHECK THE HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA'S MOTHER LODE COUNTRY IN THE 1850S. THE TOWNS WERE BASICALLY JACK-WIRED AND BUILT OF WHATEVER WOODEN AND EARTHEN MATERIAL WAS READILY AT HAND. AFTER A FEW DEVASTATING FIRES, THE TOWNS' BUILDINGS WERE RE-BUILT OF BRICK. THAT IS ONE OF THE REASON THAT THESE TOWNS NOW HAVE MANY MAGNIFICENT BRICK BUILDINGS. EVEN SOME TOWNS IN CALIFORNIA THAT ARE COMPLETELY DESERTED HAVE SOME OF THESE BRICK BUILDINGS.
Forest fires were very common in forested areas, but there weren't that many forested areas in what most people consider 'the Old West.' There was a major fire in Michigan that's had at least 2 novels based on it. Fires in the Pacific Northwest were very common. The whole town of Seattle burned at one point. Nearlly every town of any size where the buildings were normally frame had a major fire at one time or another. There was little technology available to fight such fires. You had bucket brigades or hand-powered or steam-powered water pumps but that was it. In addition, in many towns the water supply was extremely limited. Often the people had to let it 'burn itself out' because there was simply not enough water to be used to fight the fire.