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July 20 , 2009

Hinckley and the Fire of 1894


Imagine a force in nature more powerful than multiple atomic bombs—that was the Great Hinckley Fire of September 1, 1894. In only four hours, the fire incinerated over 400 square miles of forest, killed at least 418 settlers and an unknown number of forest-dwelling Native Americans, and destroyed six towns in a firestorm of flame. The elements that led to this unprecedented catastrophe included careless logging practices, a drought, freakish weather, and suspected sparks from passing locomotives. The story of the 1894 fire is a saga of devastation, heartbreak, heroism, survival, hope, and rebuilding that captured worldwide attention. Recently discovered photographs provide a backdrop for a fresh look at the events surrounding the disaster and the courage of the pioneers who survived to tell the tale.

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