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103 years since the fire sparked by train in Cloquet killed hundreds

CARLTON CO., MN– Over 100 years ago a devastating wildfire sparked from a train leaving more than 450 people dead.

On October 10, 1918, a spark from a train ignited a fire near Cloquet that smoldered for two days until news of the fire reached Duluth.

The fire entered Duluth at the Woodland neighborhood at about 6:00 pm. on October 12.

Meanwhile, Minnesota was in the midst of an extreme drought and gusty winds to which fed the flames.

According to the U. S. Weather Bureau’s official in charge, it was the “driest season in 48 years.”

453 people were killed and 52,000 were injured or displaced.

38 communities were destroyed, 250,000 acres were burned and $73 million (over a billion in today’s economy) in property damage was suffered.

The hardest-hit areas were Moose Lake, Cloquet and Kettle River.

View fire map here.

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Molly Wasche

Social Media and Digital Content Manager

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