- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (14 Aug. 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006123625X
- ISBN-13: 978-0061236259
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,904,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894 (P.S.) Paperback – 14 Aug 2007
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Illustrated with period pictures, this deft slice of regional history will attract disaster and weather buffs as well as fans of Norman Maclean s standout Young Men and Fire -- Publisher s Weekly"
[a] worthy addition to this genre a compelling read the power of the stories and Brown s imaginative skill retelling them [pulls] us in --MN Star Tribune"
Riveting, moving, white-knuckle reading to rank with classic accounts of the perfect storm, Krakatoa, and other storied calamities -- Booklist" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
These small towns, with no way to communicate with each other, no experience in dealing with a disastrous fire of the size it became, and the heroism shown by a few that risked their lives is heartstopping.
I was mostly shocked by the chapter that deals with the train the engineer roared through the fire, attempting to get people out of their burning towns to uncertain safety. Even though he took a risk in stopping the train in each small town, and the entire train was partly on fire, with all the passengers screaming and imploring people to get on and save their own lives, ALL of the townspeople in each place they halted, only stared at them and refused to board!! I found myself almost pulling my hair out!! Every single one of those people that decided not to board the train burned alive in a conflagration too nightmarish to think about. The description of people and how they deal with something that seems completely impossible is so important i think everyone should read it. Even though it happened at the same time as the great Chicago Fire, the subject is still completely relevant today, and the reactions of the average person to a fire is much the same in modern times. During the great Bradford Stadium fire in England, many people died because they would not react to a scorching explosion of flames right under their feet!!!
I've visited the area and driven through the towns in the book. I've gone to the museum and walked around Hinckley today using his vivid descriptions as anchors.
If you like history, Minnesota history in particular, or if you are interested in wildfires or disasters in general you'll like this book. Since reading it I've gone on to read some of the books the author recommends about other wildfires in Wisconsin and Minnesota.