The Great Hinckley Fire was a major conflagration that burned an area of more than 400 square miles (1000 km²), killing 418 to 459 people in the process. The fire occurred on September 1, 1894 and was centered at Hinckley, Minnesota. After a two-month drought, several fires started in the pine forests of Pine County, Minnesota. The main contributor to the fire was apparently the then-common method of lumber harvesting, which involved stripping trees of their branches, littering the ground with such detritus. Another contributing factor was a temperature inversion that trapped the gases from the fires, the fires developed into a firestorm, with flames reaching over four miles (6 km) high and temperatures reaching 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (550 °C). Some people were able to escape by climbing into wells, or by reaching a nearby pond or the Grindstone River. Others escaped by jumping onto two crowded trains that were able to get out of town. James Root, an engineer on a train heading south from Duluth, was able to rescue nearly 300 people by backing a train up nearly five miles to Skunk Lake, where people could escape the fire.
HP68 – Hinckley Fire.mp3 7:35 – 7.13MB
Source: City of Hinckley, Minnesota
MNHS.org – History Topics
Hinckley Online Tour
Under a Flaming Sky : The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894