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Publisher's Summary

On September 1, 1894, two forest fires converged on the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, trapping over 2,000 people. Daniel J. Brown recounts the events surrounding the fire in the first and only book to chronicle the dramatic story that unfolded.

On September 1, 1894, two forest fires converged on the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, trapping over 2,000 people. Daniel J. Brown recounts the events surrounding the fire in the first and only book to chronicle the dramatic story that unfolded.

Whereas Oregon's famous "Biscuit" fire in 2002 burned 350,000 acres in one week, the Hinckley fire did the same damage in five hours. The fire created its own weather, including hurricane-strength winds, bubbles of plasmalike 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 to knock down buildings and carry flaming debris 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. Two trains ran the gauntlet of fire. One train caught on fire from one end to the other. The 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 his locomotive out of town until the last possible minute of escape. In all, more than 400 people died, leading to a revolution in forestry management practices and federal agencies that monitor and fight wildfires today.

Author Daniel Brown has woven together numerous survivors' stories, historical sources, and interviews with forest fire experts in a gripping narrative that tells the fascinating story of one of North America's most devastating fires and how it changed the nation.

©2016 Daniel Brown (P)2016 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great book

horrible realities abound in this book. there is story after story of horribly burned and mutilated people make this a must read before any meal

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Well researched

Ugh, such a sad heartwrenching story. I cried during parts of this. The author does such a great job of explaining hour by hour what happened to this community. He explains the science of fire and how it kills in more ways than one. He leads you through the the horrific last moments of so many. I literally checked the fire alarms in my house afyer this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great but sad tale

I loved the story though I thought the writing tended to be a little overly descriptive at times. The author did a great job on researching the story which made it more like hearing the event from someone who was there first hand. I thought the narrator was good but a little monotone so he sounded more like someone reading a book than telling a story. I would recommend the book as it definitely kept my interest throughout.

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Worth it

Any additional comments?

Different enough and an interesting historical snap shot of the region and era and that made the listen worth while. A little preachy at times which was distracting and way too repetitious. The 30 second forward button on the app improved the last third of the book. Overall, a good purchase.

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This is a sad story, that should be remembered.

I loved this book and really enjoy this authors writing style and other books. An easy read.

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  • Bruce
  • MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States
  • 12-02-17

Welll researched. brings the people alive once a

lived the fire through his writing. he found a personnel connection like he did in his Donner Party book.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Almost too much drama.

Daniel James Brown is just a terrific author. His research of the historical and scientific details make his books fascinating.

In this book, the details are so tragic, so heartbreaking, that for me, the story was at times a little difficult to read. I really enjoyed the epilogue. Learning a little of the author's journey and his relationship to that tragic event lent a deeper appreciation for the story.

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firestorm

like other books reformed by this man, berry well done. great history lesson made personal

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    4 out of 5 stars

After fire started, I couldn't stop listening

A bit slow at the beginning but once fire started, pace was relentless. Narrator's voice was pleasant and he had appropriate pauses between scene shifts.

The author did his research well provided rich scientific and historical details.

I know Minnesota had a greater and more tragic fire around Cloquet some years later. This was touched on only briefly. I wish there was some discussion about why the Hinckley fire is the more famous.

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Brown's word paint a vivid picture.

I'm a big fan of the works of Daniel James Brown. He makes the human story of this tragic incident come alive in gruesome data. A true story of perseverance and heroism on a scale that many 21st century Americans will find hard to believe.