MapsReportsWLF LinksMedia ArticlesMultimediaComments

Incident Name:  Hinckley Fire of 1894
Date: September 1, 1894
Personnel: hundreds of lives lost
Age: 
Agency/Organization: volunteers, citizens
Position: 

Summary:

The Hinckley Fire burned at least 200,000 - 250,000 acres including the Minnesota towns of Hinckley, Mission Creek, Brook Park and Sandstone. At a minimum it took an estimated 418 lives in a very short time, but scholars believe the number probably was closer to 800.

There had been a two month drought and wood waste and slash from logging the pine forests had been left on the ground. Slash fires that were intentionally set were burning in some logging camps. Survivors also describe fires that typically burned in the region in the fall that were inadvertently started by trains and often found ready fuel.

On September 1, 1894 it was hot and there was a temperature inversion, trapping heat, smoke and gasses under cool air above. When several larger fires joined and broke through the inversion, cooler air fed the flames of large and small fires alike and created a vortex of flame. The ensuing firestorm -- fed by tornadic winds -- gobbled up woods, farms, towns and lives alike. The St Paul, Duluth and Eastern Minnesota trains and their crews played a part in saving many people. Several hundred Hinckley townspeople and a family cow took refuge and survived in a gravel pit beside Hinckley's Eastern Minnesota depot. Other families began to evacuate earlier by train, and when the fire overtook them, took refuge in the mudhole which had the day before been Skunk Lake. Yet others got on a train headed for Pine City and escaped the flames. The stories of the Hinckley survivors are gripping.

Horizontal line

Maps

Hinckley, MN

Return to top

Horizontal line

Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

Return to top
Horizontal line

Wildlandfire.com Links:

 

 

Return to top

Horizontal line

Media Articles and Reports

 

 

Return to top

Horizontal line

Photos, Videos, & Tributes

Return to top

Contributors to this article: 

WFF Boots & Wreath logo. Please support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation