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Teacher and Three Children Burn in Terrible Prairie Fire, Three Others May Die and Flames are Still Raging

School Children Near Belfield Try to Escape From the Path of Seething Flames Fanned by Thirty-Mile Gale; Bodies Found Huddled Together Only Four Rods From Where They Would Have Been Safe.

Dickinson, N.D., Nov 6—The worst prairie fire in the history of this country occurred this afternoon, when a teacher and three pupils of a country school were burned to death, and three other children so badly burned that their death is only a question of hours.

The fire was started some 17 miles southwest of Belfield, about noon, by a threshing outfit, which was moving to a new setting, and, fanned into a devastating flame by a 30-mile gale, swept on to claim a terrible toll of life and property.

Saw Fire Coming

About 1 o'clock, Miss Gladys Hollister and her little flock of 12 school children in the Davis school, 12 miles southwest of Belfield, saw the fire, about five miles away, coming up the valley towards them. Frantic with fright, they left the building, which tonight stands uninjured and which would have kept them safe while the fire demon swept by, and made superhiman efforts to reach a plowed field, which they thought was their only salvation. Five children, living in a direction away from the path of the fire, succeeded in reaching home.

Four Rods From Safety

Their teacher and six little comrades struggled on, now falling, overcome by fear and smoke, then up and stumbling on again. But the dense smoke enveloped them and they were found huddled together, only four rods from the plowed ground, and safety. Three children were dead when found and three terribly burned. Their clothes were completely burned off. Miss Hollister, who was in a most pitiable condition, with 90 per cent of the skin of her body burned, was unconscious, but regained consciousness long enough to say that she realized she made a mistake in leaving the school house, but did what she thought best.

The Bismarck Daily Tribune, 11/7/1914

More info can be found via this Plains Folk story.

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Posted 12/03/2012