Friday, June 28, 2013

Firestorm at Peshtigo by Denise Gess and William Lutz

I found this book while reading another and was curious enough about this event to get the book.   October 8 1871  - the same day as the famous Chicago Fire over 2400 square miles of forest and over 2200 people died in Peshtigo Wisconsin.
The town depended on lumber, the cutting, manufacturing, and shipping of pines.  Most of the town was composed of immigrants, coming by the dozens for work.
The survivors letters, diaries, and newspaper files tell the story.  Whole familes fleeing the fire died in an instant, combusted by the fire.  Women died quicker than men because of the higher fat content of their bodies.  Children were incinerated along with their familes trying to get out of the fire.  Some were saved by accident, some by taking shelter in the river, which had its own dangers. There are a few photos of the devastation, looking like a bomb had exploded.
Interestingly, the meteorology and geology of the fire was used during World War II to understand how to start a firestorm, and used in the firebombing of Dresden.
If you haven't heard of this deadliest fire and you are a fire buff - this is a must read.

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