Imagine you are looking outside. Fire is coming rapidly on its way to catch its prey. You run downstairs, saying, “fire, fire!” At first, your family thinks you are crazy. But when they look outside, their faces seep down into the shadows. They briskly came out of the door while weary smoke blew into their faces, making breathing and seeing hard.
They all ran together for their lives and had forgotten you. You try to catch up with your family, but others block your way: trying to get to the Peshtigo River.
Peshtigo Fire (Pesh-tee-gow) had been one of the deadliest wildfires in American History. Despite that, many people lost lives in this fire.
Stretching across Peshtigo, Wisconsin
This scene you imagined happens to be what some families experienced on Sunday, October 8th, 1871. The Peshtigo Fire took place in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. It happened to be a city that was booming rapidly. Thousands of immigrants came to Peshtigo, Wisconsin, for its cheap land while living their life in nature. Each day shops, buildings, warehouses, and apartments, were growing and rising each day. The woods covered up to 16 million acres. But then, in 1800 years, the woods were changing.
You could hear axes chopping off trees, at the same time decreasing the population of the woods, one by one. Thousands of trees fell while getting sent to make houses and buildings. Soon the population of trees had gone down to a decline.
People couldn’t see the full woods anymore, and its silents all made it a bit nervously. They knew that trees in the woods were decreasing more than they had thought.
Within a year, they finished building houses. So, no more trees become chopped off by the townspeople chopped off. Everything had been going smoothly for the people in Peshtigo, Wisconsin until the deadly fire struck.
Flames of fire throughout the Town
On the dawn of October 8th, it had been a hot day. The sky had been glowing bright and dark orange. Then, at 9:00 pm, the wildfire had already started to rise. The fire had been growing at the end of the woods. The wind carried the flames and ashes in the sky, making the orange sky pitch black.
But the wildfires had started to spread through the Town. No one noticed until they saw a glowing orange and red coming straight for their houses. While learning that, people run out of their homes. They had covered their faces, mouths, noses, and eyes from the dreadful smoke.
Parents held their children’s hands while children had their baby brother or sister get to the Peshtigo River quickly, hoping they would live. They came into the river; they needed to go on a boat or in the river to be safe from the fire.
Back to the hard-working time
The fire lasted for at least an hour until the following day. It destroyed homes and buildings; 600 people died in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. One thousand seven hundred buildings burned down, and it had cost $169 million to rebuild.
Houses and buildings had fallen into pieces; some only had half of their structure standing. Telegraph lines railroads became broken.
After the Peshtigo fire, some people decided the best way was to live in another city or state, and at the same time, some stayed to cherish their loved ones, family, and friends for those who had died that night.
Never the Same and but Forgotten
After the fire, the people who stayed in Peshtigo helped rebuild the houses and buildings with brick to prevent another fire from destroying them again. Unfortunately, Peshtigo wasn’t the same after the fire.
The forests of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, never indeed recovered. Today only a few patches of the woods remain.
The story of the Peshtigo Fire was unfortunately forgotten by most since another fire happened on the same day in Chicago. That took the most of the attention than Peshtigo. However, people in Wisconsin will never forget this deadly fire and will cherish those who had died that sorrowful night.
The Peshtigo wildfire had a 144th anniversary, which destroyed 1.2 million acres and killed more than 2,500 people; that’s more deaths by fire from a single incident than any other in United States history.
The Peshtigo fire destroyed everything in 2 minutes and killed more than 2,500 people.
The Peshtigo took its name from the nearby Peshtigo River. The etymology of Peshtigo first is uncertain. Explorations include an Ojibwe word meaning ‘river of the wild goose, a Menominee word for ‘snapping turtle, a word meaning ‘passing through a marsh, or a reference to a local Menominee band was named: Pesh-tiko.
The trees alive after the Peshtigo Fire, the aspen tree, were 18%, the most common trees in the Peshtigo woods.
The Peshtigo, Wisconsin forest has stretched to the Peshtigo to Minnesota.
The woods had the trees covered up to 16 million acres.