Oct. 8, 1871: The Great Peshtigo Fire levels a rural town in Wisconsin, killing more than 1,000 people. Speculation on the cause ranges from a meteorite, to extreme drought, to poor land use as the area is rapidly cleared for “slash-and-burn” farming. The same day, the Great Chicago Fire destroys much of the fast-growing city.
Oct. 8, 2004: Wangari Maathai (at right), leader of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, wins the Nobel Peace Prize. She led a campaign to plant tens of millions of trees across Africa to combat deforestation and desertification.
Oct. 8, 2005: A magnitude-7.6 earthquake levels villages in the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir. An estimated 82,000 people die, and relief workers struggle to care for the more than 3 million homeless as winter approaches.