Eight Devastating Minnesota Fires
There are more than 17 million acres of forest land in Minnesota. That amounts to over 22 percent of the state's total area. And, for over 125 years wildfire has destroyed a good portion of that timberland.
Some of these fires were fueled by drought conditions. Lightning strikes and sparks from trains also played a role in the devastation.
Here is a look at some of the most destructive fires in Minnesota.
The Great Minneapolis Fire of 1893 burned more than 23 blocks of the northeast part of the city. It began on the south end of Nicollet Island in the Lenhart Wagon Factory. An estimated 1,500-2,000 people were left homeless.
The Great Hinckley Fire of 1894 blackened 350,000 acres or more than 400 square miles. Unfortunately, that is not the worst of it. The fire also took the lives of at least 418 men, women, and children. Countless pets, livestock, and wildlife were also lost.
300,000 acres and 42 people were killed in the 1910 Baudette-Spooner Forrest Fire caused by sparks from a train during a drought season.
250,000 acres were destroyed in 1918 when sparks from trains set the Cloquet-Moose Lake, MN forest a blaze. Conflicting reports put the death toll between 559 and 1,000 people who lost their lives in the fire. The hardest hit areas were Moose Lake, Cloquet, and Kettle River. Thirty-eight communities were destroyed, 250,000 acres were burned and $73 million (over a billion in today's economy) in property damage was suffered.
September 11, 1931, the Red Lake Fire consumed 994,000 acres and became known as the Dust Bowl Fire.
Thanksgiving Day, 1982 flames erupted from the vacant former Donaldson's Department Store building in downtown Minneapolis and quickly spread to the upper floors of the adjacent 16-story Northwestern National Bank building. The fire destroyed an entire city block, including a historic bank headquarters. Thankfully, no lives were lost.
In the MPR News report, authorities said the fire was arson, and two boys were arrested and accused of starting the fire in the vacant department store building, though the charges reportedly were dropped.
On May 5, 2007, an unattended campfire ignited the Ham Lake Fire in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota burning 75,000 acres and the destruction of hundreds of properties.
2011 Pagami Creek Fire spread to over 92,000 acres around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Over $21.6 million was spent on fighting the fire, compared to the $11 million cost to fight the Ham Lake Fire.