Metz, MI Perish Fleeing From Fire, Oct 1908
The little village of Metz, with about 100 inhabitants, was one of them. Its situation became acutely dangerous last night.
The Detroit and Mackinaw railroad sent in a relief train of box cars. Household goods and store stocks were loaded on some of the cars and people filled the others. How many were taken aboard is not known nor is it known whether any of the farmers from outlying points had come into Metz seeking refuge from the flames. If this is the case there may have been more people on the wrecked relief train than the inhabitants of the little village could have furnished.
Train Wrecked While Backing Up.
With its load of frightened men, women and children the train pulled out of Metz about midnight, it is understood, and started for the north. There were flames along the tracks on both sides and the roar of the burning woods rose above the sound of the engine. The train proceeded toward the north as far as Hawks Station, about half way between Metz and Millersburg.
There the flames were sweeping across the track so fiercely as to make further progress in that direction impossible. The train was headed back toward the south and Alpena. The necessity for returning again into the flame ridden section from which they had been fleeing increased the terror of the passengers aboard the ill-fated, extemporized relief train. As they were rushing through the fire and smoke, the train struck a culvert which had been burned through. It left the rails and piled into the ditch, according to the meagre reports received through the two trainmen who had escaped.
Scenes Of Horror.
What scenes of horror must have followed when the terror stricken refugees found themselves helpless amid the fire from which they had been fleeing are not yet known from the lips of any survivor. Conductor KINVILLE and Engineer FOSTER managed to crawl into Posen early this morning on their hands and knees, both being badly burned. KINVILLE is said to have been blinded by his burns. No story has been obtained from them yet, owing to lack of wires. Only the bare reports that they are alive and in the village, has come out.
From Millersburg about noon came the first positive confirmation of the fate of at least part of the train's passengers.
It was but a brief statement. It said that fifteen burned skulls had been found in the ruins of a gondola car which formed part of the train and that the body of Fireman ARTHUR LEE had been found in the water tank of the engine where he had sought refuge and had perished.
The report also said that MRS. CICERO, of Metz, and three of her children were among the dead. That is all that the anxious newspaper men and railroad officials here were able to get over the wire from the village of Millersburg up to noon today. Wires are down in many places through the country.
Fate of Village Unknown.
Nothing definite has yet come from the north as to the fate of the village of Metz. It is thought to be more than possible that there was loss of life there, if the flames have completed the work of destruction which had begun when the last report was received. It is thought possible that there may have only been women and and children and helpless persons placed aboard the relief train which met such a horrible fate and that some at least of the strong men of the hamlet may have stayed behind to fight for their homes.
Millersburg added to its statement that the fifteen skulls had been found, that most of them were thought to be those of women and children.
The operating department of the Detroit and Mackinac railroad at East Tawas, has been unable thus far to secure any information except the tidings from Millersburg. The road has not yet received any statement from either the conductor or engineer, who are at Posen. Neither have they been able to learn the fate of any of the little villages north of Milersburg, on the line of the road.
The Fort Wayne Sentinel Indiana 1908-10-16