Wisconsin Forest Fires, Sept 1894



High Winds Drive the Flames Over Burned Territory and It Is Consumed Anew - One Town Struggles with Fire on Three Sides of It - Nantucket Island Afire - Parts of New-York State and the West Visted by Much-Needed Showers.

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis., Sept. 6. - A late report from Bruce says the little village was completely enveloped by the forest fire that has been surrounding the place for several days. The people escaped by running to the creek, covering themselves with wet blankets and allowing the flames to sweep over them.

D. W. Blackburn's mill camp and a million feet of lumber were burned. There was no insurance. Stickney, McPherson & Stickney lost 3,000,000 feet of logs by fire at Cartwright. Bruce is a post settlement on the Chippewa River and on the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad, eight miles north of Chippewa Falls. The population was 100.

Forest fires extended to the village of Thorpe [sic], 1,000 population, yesterday afternoon, but by great efforts the town was saved with little loss. The fire was stopped within a half a block of the Nye, Lusk & Hudson lumber mill, one of the largest plants in this section. Fires are still raging in the immense pine-land tracts owned by the Cornell University, at Cornell Lake, fifteen miles from here.

ASHLAND, Wis., Sept. 5. - The fire broke out in a new spot yesterday, threatening the town of Odanah, an Indian village of the Bad River Reservation. This country was badly burned over last year, and it is probable that the Indians have all found places of safety. Navigation on the south shore of Lake Superior and in Chequemon [sic] Bay, between Ashland, Washburn, and Bayfield has practically ceased. It is impossible to navigate on account of the dense smoke. Fog whistles are kept continually going, and it hs been necessary for vessels lying in port to guide other boats into the dock by a succession of whistles.

Port Wing is the latest town reported to be burning. It is a lumbering village situated on the south shore of Lake Superior, midway between Ashland and Duluth. The reports regarding it came in very late and are meagre.

The bodies of eight people, who lost their lives at High Bridge, have been identified, as follows:


The remains were brought to Ashland. Brief services were held in the undertaking rooms this afternoon. Homesteaders near Marengo report twenty-eight deer burned in one bunch, where they had huddled together in a green thicket and suffocated. Baked rabbits, partridges, and porcupines are numberless.

In a district five miles square in the Town of Marengo thirty-two homesteaders lost everything, and but three houses remain. Provisions have already been sent to Marengo. Dispatches from Sanborn announce to-day:

"This place is all right, but it has been a hard fight. The town is full of refugees from the surrounding settlements. The majority of these people had to run for their lives and only saved the clothing they had on.

"There were about twelve or fifteen homesteaders between Sanborn and Bibon that were burned out and lost everything they had. There have been no mail trains through since Saturday, and we do not expect any before next Friday or Saturday. James Morgan, who walked in from Shore's Crossing last night, reports that place in a precarious condition again. Fires were burning up within a few feet of the town last night, but the absence of wind gave the people a good fighting chance to save their property."

The Brule correspondent telegraphs the following to-night:

"News just received of burning homesteads and logging camps along the lake shore north of Brule. A fearful smoke. The citizens are constantly on the outlook for the fires."

Iron River, a thriving town midway between Ashland and Duluth, on the Northern Pacific, has anticipated the march of the fire and has sent out a small regiment of volunteer firemen this afternoon to cut off the flames by building back-fires. Iron River was completely wiped out by fire two years ago, and the citizens are alert.

Cleavedau, however, is the object of anxiety to-night. The Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railroad has a force of men laying new tracks where the long trestle was burned last Saturday, near Marengo. The foreman of the crew was called upon for assistance last night, and he took an engine a few miles down the line to Shiloh, where he rescued some section men who became surrounded by flames. It is not known how Shiloh has fared since.

Fire Chief Scott of the Ashland Fire Department has been out all day supervising the work of providing better protection against the advancement of fires upon Ashland. A brisk wind set in this afternoon, causing considerable excitement and apprehension. The path of the fires has thoroughly destroyed the remaining vegetation.

Fires can be seen blazing from Ashland very plainly. It is almost impossible to extinguish them, as the very roots of the trees burn and coals become imbedded beneath the trunks of the trees.

It is dangerous to go from Ashland for three miles. The most critical position of the day was between 11 and 4 o'clock, when the wind was the strongest. If the strong winds of to-day continue to-morrow, fires will break out again in all of the burned districts. Once burning over does not seem effective in stopping fires.

Owing to the large amount of destruction to look after, there has been no organization to care for settlers and families that are placed among the missing. It will probable [sic] be several days before any organized effort along that line can be put forth.

At Shore's Crossing, which was burned at the same time that Phillips went up in smoke, determined efforts were necessary to prevent a second burning last night and to-day. Three hundred men, thoroughly organized, are keeping back the flames from the newly-constructed houses. The flames were within 300 feet of the town at one time last night. This illustrates that one or even two burnings of the forests does not prevent another fire.

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis., Sept. 5. - Fisher Meadow, near Estella, a small settlement was wiped out to-day. The fire is said to be running toward Murray, where danger is apprehended.

The New York Times, New York, NY 6 Sept 1894
Wisconsin Town Burned.

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis., Sept. 6. - A late report from Bruce states that the little village was completely enveloped by the forest fire that has been surrounding the place for several days. The people escaped by running to the creek, covering themselves with wet blankets and allowing the flames to sweep over them. Charles Arrance says the flames seemed to come from all directions and that he never expected to come out alive.

Bruce is a post settlement on the Chippewa river and on the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie railroad, 48 miles north of Chippewa Falls. The population is about 100.

The Bismarck Daily Tribune, Bismarck, ND 6 Sept 1894