Hinckley and the Fire of 1894

Alaina Wolter Lyseth, Walt Tomas

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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About the Author: Alaina Wolter Lyseth has roots in Pine County that date to when her Swedish ancestors immigrated here in 1906. Lyseth became a permanent resident of Hinckley in 1985, and when her 13-year-old son needed information for a genealogy project, she started digging for answers and has not stopped.

She has lived in many places, but Hinckley and its history have always been touchstones for her. She is a member of the Pine County Genealogical Society and the Pine County Historical Society and also volunteers at the Hinckley Fire Museum.