UNDATED (WJON News) -- October 12th marks the start of what is still known as the worst natural disaster to ever hit Minnesota.

The Minnesota Historical Society says more than 450 people died in the Cloquet, Duluth and Moose Lake fires.  More than 1,500 square miles were scorched and towns and villages burned flat.

The whole event lasted less than 15 hours from beginning to end.  The fire began around midday on Saturday, October 12th, 1918.  By 3:00 a.m. Sunday all was over except for some smoldering.

The event is primarily called the Cloquet fire, but it was really 50 or more fires that all combined into one event.

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In the Kettle River area, people saved themselves in streams, ditches and open fields.  Many died either by the fire or in root cellars by suffocation.

As the fire reached Moose Lake, relief trains rescued a few hundred people.  Most of the people that survived did so by jumping in Moose Head Lake.  Some people drove their cars right into the lake.

National Weather Service
National Weather Service
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