Story - Thousands Flee When Northern Mich. Towns Are Swept By Flames - 1911

Alpena, Oscoda in Fire District, Cheboygan Threatened.

Worst Conflagration in history of state aided by wind.

Oscoda Wiped Off Map

Train Crews and Loggers Trapped by Advancing Wall of Fire Across Upper Part of State - Fire Fighting Apparatus Wrecked in Forest, and Trains are Cancelled - Railroad and Wire Communication with Fire-swept Villages is Cut Off - Flames Spread with Great Rapidity on Account of Dry Condition in Upper Michigan.

Smoke from the burning villages in the upper part of the state, reaching this city early this morning and everywhere there is a blue haze and smoke smell which has aroused curiosity of local citizens and resorters.

The town of Oscoda, with a population of 864, has been completely wiped out by forest fires.

Au Sable, across the river and adjoining, with 900 inhabinants, is being swept by flames and it is feared that it cannot be saved.

Alpena, population of 6,859, suffers $95,000 loss.

Cheboygan, population of 6,849, is threatened, though in no immediate danger.

Millersburg and LaRocque, two villages half way between Cheboygan and Alpena, have been destroyed, according to the latest reports. Confirmation of the report cannot be obtained because of burned wires.

The 1,800 inhabitants of Oscoda and Au Sable are being taken away from the burned and burning towns on a big steamer, which attracted by the flames, put into the harbor, and on Detroit & Mackinac railway trains made up of freight cars.

Fire Fighting Train Wrecked

The special train, bearing fire apparatus and men started ffrom Bay City to the relief of Alpena, was wrecked somewhere in the burning forests north of East Tawas.

The fire area is spreading rapidly all over the northern part of the lower peninsula from Au Sable and Alpena on the Lake Huron shore, to Petoskey and Traverse City on Lake Michigan.

The crew of a logging train which reached Wolverine over the Haakwood branch of the Michigan Central railway reports considerable difficulty in running through the blazing forests and that an overhead bridge was burning when they crossed. They fear that another logging train which is still back from Wolverine will not be able to reach safety.

The second train has right of way on the line, so no warning can be sent of the burning bridge and there is fear that the crew will run into the wreck of the bridge.

Cut Off By Wall of Flame

Conductor Spenser and a train crew are cut off by a wall of flame and a burned bridge on the Pigeon River branch of the road. The train cannot be brought through until after the fires are out.

Between 50 and 60 flat and box cars are reported burned on various logging branches.

A crew of woodchoppers on the Richardson branch were forced to leave their tools and flee for their lives before the advancing flames.

Many lumber camps are so situated that escape for the men will be difficult.

Cadillac reports that Lake City, the largest town in Missaukee county, is threatened. Trains on the G.R.&I. railroads, north of Cadillac, have been cancelled, being unable to force their way through the fires. The entire country is under a pall of smoke.

Petoskey reports two cottages a mile from the city burned, and the villages of Ball Siding and Bay Shore in grave danger. G.R.&I. traffic above there was stopped yesterday afternoon at Curfew, a village near Boyne Falls. One man was caught in a burning cottage and nearly suffocated, but was rescued in time and will recover.

Many Towns Threatened

Two fires in farm timber tracts near Traverse City, did $2,000 damage. A barn of the Traverse City brewery was burned with a loss of $1,000.

Booneville, south of Traverse City was threatened by a forest fire, but the city fire department extinguished the flames.

While the first report from Trowbridge to the effect that the little village was wiped out was incorrect, two houses were burned and others are in danger.

The flames are reported leaping across the track of the G.R.&I. toward Traverse City.

Antrim county, of which Bellaire is the judicial seat, is reported swept by flames, as is Oscoda county, of which Mio is the seat.

A G.R.&I. train arriving at Boyne Falls, ran through smoke and flames for three miles.

- St. Joseph Daily Press 7/12/1911]