Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894 (P.S.)

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9780061236259: Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894 (P.S.)

On September 1, 1894, two forest fires converged on the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, trapping more than two thousand people. The fire created its own weather, including hurricane-strength winds, bubbles of plasma-like glowing gas, and 200-foot-tall flames. As temperatures reached 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, the firestorm knocked down buildings and carried flaming debris high into the sky. Two trains—one with every single car on fire—became the only means of escape. In all, more than four hundred people would die, leading to a revolution in forestry management and the birth of federal agencies that monitor and fight wildfires.

A spellbinding account of danger, devastation, and courage, Under a Flaming Sky reveals the dramatic, minute-by-minute story of the tragedy and brings into focus the ordinary citizens whose lives it irrevocably marked.

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From the Back Cover:

On September 1, 1894 two forest fires converged on the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, trapping over two thousand people. Daniel James Brown recounts the events surrounding the fire in Under a Flaming Sky, the most gripping and comprehensive chronicle of how the dramatic story unfolded. Whereas Oregon's famous "Biscuit" fire in 2002 took more than a week to burn its first 350,000 acres, the Hinckley fire did the same amount of damage in only five hours. The fire created its own weather, including hurricane-strength winds, bubbles of plasma-like glowing gas, and 200-foot-tall flames. In some instances, "fire whirls," or tornadoes of fire, danced out from the main body of the fire, knocking down buildings and carrying flaming debris high into the sky. Temperatures reached 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit--the melting point of steel.
As the fire surrounded the town, two railroads became the only means of escape. Both trains ran the gauntlet of fire. One train caught on fire from one end to the other. A heroic young African-American porter ran up and down the length of the train, reassuring the passengers even as the flames tore at their clothes. On the other train, the engineer refused to back out of town until the last possible minute of escape. In all, more than four hundred people died, leading to a revolution in forestry management practices and the birth of federal agencies that monitor and fight wildfires today.


About the Author:

Daniel James Brown is the author of The Boys in the Boat and Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894. He lives in the country east of Redmond, Washington, with his wife and two daughters.

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Brown, Daniel James
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