These stories can also be heard Sunday mornings around 10 am on WILD 102’s “Look Back in Time” program. Each week’s radio story will be posted here on our website.
Weekly radio stories are researched, compiled, and read by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member.
August 20, 2023
Last week I read about peat fires in the Roseau lake area in September 1933. In that same week’s copy of Northern Minnesota Leader newspaper, another fire area was written of.
In a letter to the Editor of the Leader, Dick Willems, district forest ranger, writes the following on the forest fire conditions in District 12:
“This letter is to inform you of the fire situation in District 12. The last serious outbreaks of fires began last Friday morning and there were fires all over the district in the peat and country and some in the timber. We were fortunate in not having any fires in the state forest and our hands were full trying to take care of what we did have. The fire in the farming area seriously threatened our Beltrami Island State forest. Perhaps one of the worst fires we had started south and east of Salol and continued in a northeasterly direction to the limits of the village of Warroad, threatening to burn our village. It was necessary for the village council to spend a large amount of money to make fire guards around the outskirts of the town on the north and west as well as to employ men to combat fires actually burning at our back door.
It was necessary to use all manner of equipment to fight this fire, including six trucks with water tanks, 2 fire engines, 1500 feet of hose, as well as pump tanks and other equipment. The fire was fought all day Sunday, and a large crew of men is working on it today (the 4th of September). We are in hopes that we will be able to hold it.
Before reaching this point, the above mentioned fire completely burned all the buildings on the Anderson place, all the buildings on the Leon Whilsie place and the barn and garage of Ed Carrier, who climbed into the well to save his own life. Yesterday evening about 6:30 P. M. the fire also burned several out buildings belonging to Gus Philipe and is still threatening his house and barn today. Many other buildings are being threatened and if bad winds come up again, no doubt dozens of families would be left homeless.
In the above mentioned territory probably 1500 ton of hay was burned in addition to roads, fences, timber, game cover, grain fields, tame hay fields and hay and grain stocks. The loss was very heavy.
We have a very bad fire in the Northwest Angle and all available men are working on it.
We are so swamped with fires and fire calls that it is impossible to take care of all of them. We are again appealing to the public to make organized efforts on their own part to save their own and their neighbors’ property and to give us possible cooperation to see that no further damage is done and that no lives are lost.”
That letter was signed by Dick Willems.
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