Macroscopic charcoal records from a thermokarst lake deposit in central Yakutia, eastern Siberia, were used to reconstruct the history of forest fires and investigate its relationship to thermokarst initiation. High accumulation rates of charcoal and pollen were coincident in the basal deposits of the thermokarst lake, which suggests that both were initially deposited on the forest floor and subsequently reworked and accumulated in the thermokarst depression. High charcoal and pollen accumulation rates in the basal deposits, dating to 11,000–9000 cal yr BP, also indicate that the thermokarst topography developed during the early Holocene. A lower charcoal accumulation rate after ca. 9000 cal yr BP suggests that thermokarst development has been inhibited since this time. It also indicates that a surface-fire regime has been predominant at least since ca. 9000 cal yr BP in central Yakutia.