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On September 1, 1894, two forest fires converged on the town of Hinckley, Minnesota, trapping more than two thousand people. The fire created its own weather, including hurricane-strength winds, bubbles of plasma-like glowing gas, and 200-foot-tall flames. As temperatures reached 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, the firestorm knocked down buildings and carried flaming debris high into the sky. Two trains—one with every single car on fire—became the only means of escape. In all, more than four hundred people would die, leading to a revolution in forestry management and the birth of federal agencies that monitor and fight wildfires.
A spellbinding account of danger, devastation, and courage, Under a Flaming Sky reveals the dramatic, minute-by-minute story of the tragedy and brings into focus the ordinary citizens whose lives it irrevocably marked.
Daniel James Brown is the author of the widely acclaimed Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894. He lives in the country east of Redmond, Washington, with his wife and two daughters.