Family Members of Survivors Remember 1918 Fires

Posted at: 10/13/2013 5:47 PM
Updated at: 10/13/2013 10:35 PM
By: Laurie Stribling

On a quiet Sunday morning, praise and prayers were heard loud and clear on a lakeshore in Moose Lake. The weekend marks the 95th anniversary of the 1918 fires that killed 453 people, scorched 250,000 acres and leveled 35 towns.

"The morning after the fire survivors gathered here on the lakeshore to have a small prayer service," Fires of 1918 Museum Executive Director Natalie Frohrip said. "We just thought it was appropriate to kind of replicate that."

About a dozen people gathered at Moose Lake City Park for the prayer service. It's a place that hits close to home for Frohrip. Her mother-in-law's family was kept safe under the water during the fire.

"I think, at that time, the adrenaline was flowing so hard," Historical Society President Dean Paulson said. "You were just glad you weren't burned."

The Old Depot in Moose Lake is one of the few structures that survived the fires and now the fires' museum sits right next door.

Frohrip said some tragic memories can be found inside. On a list of fire victims, two families, made up of 17 people, are found, but there's some stories that will never be told.

"Those people didn't volunteer too much information unless you asked them direct," Paulson said. "There are stories out there I wish we had."

Frohrip said the 1918 fires are still Minnesota's largest natural disaster.