Forest Fires - Fire Traps Around Our Village Ought to be Cleaned Up
Forest Republican – Thursday May 10, 1900
The forest fires have apparently been raging in all directions, of course this means in the evergreen belt. Hardwoods have not been molested, but pine and other evergreens have been licked up with avidity. This is particularly true of the country to the east of Crandon. For several days the smoke from the burning country obscured the sun at mid-day, and, as night approached, all objects were shut out from view. Smoke could not only be seen, but it could be smelt and tasted. It seems that the rain would never come, that the whole country would be swept by fire, but Monday night saw a change. A gentle shower fell most of the night and Tuesday morning everything was soaked with moisture. Rain was never more welcome.
Forest Republican - May 2, 1901.
Brush fires running in the woods have been quite prevalent. The store and boarding house at Laona were endangered Monday.
Issue Warnings to Stop Brush Fires
Appleton Post Crescent – October 2, 1924
Oconto, Wisconsin – Warning notices are being issued by wire and posted in Forest county to prevent the spread of forest and brush fires which are now raging in the vicinity of Laona along the Soo railway. Friday night 100 men were making a desperate fight to stop the fires which are rapidly spreading through the dry leaves and which are now burning in the green timber. The conditions in the fire zone Saturday morning were dangerous and settlers are warned to be ready to protect their lives and property.
Brush Fires Raging in Country Around Laona
Ironwood Daily Globe - October 25, 1924
Oconto, Wisconsin - Warning notices are being issued by wire and posted in Forest county to prevent the spread of forest and brush fires which are now raging in the vicinity of Laona along the Soo railway. Last night, men were making a desperate fight to stop the fires which are rapidly spreading through the dry leaves and which are now running into the green timber. The conditions in the fire zone this morning were dangerous and settlers are warned to be ready to protect their lives and properties.
Timber Belt is Caught in Fire: 500 Men are Fighting Flames in Forest County
Ironwood Daily Globe – Monday October 27, 1924 (Associated Press)
Laona, WI. – Fire Warden W.P. Clawson, stationed here, reported today that 500 men are fighting nine fires in the timber belt in the eastern part of Forest county, that six of the fires are under control, and that 37,000 acres of cut-over and timber land will have been swept by the fires which began in the brush and dry leaves Saturday. The Warden also reported that a mild west wind was blowing at noon, and that he expected the three fires not under control, one of which is threatening the logging camp of the Flanner Lumber company, could be checked before night fall. The tract of timber in which the fire is now burning belongs to the Menominee Bay Shore, Flanner, and the Connor companies. Officials of the companies could not be reached but W.D. Connor, Jr., town chairman here, stated that millions of dollars worth of timber is threatened. According to reports received by Mr. Connor, the logging camp of the Flanner Lumber company is in danger. No fatalities were reported, however. Mr. Connor said that at 9 o’clock the early morning blow had subsided, and he expressed the belief that the fire in the tall timber could be confined to a few acres.
New Fires Breaking Out in Wisconsin: 600 Men Fighting Fire in Timber Belt
Appleton Post Crescent – Tuesday October 28, 1924
Laona, WI – Reports coming in here today from the fire lines in the eastern part of Forest county where 30,000 acres of cut-over timber land have been swept by fire, which began last Saturday, stated that new fires had broken out bringing the total up to eleven. Six of these are under control. Three of the fires, around which six hundred fighters are centering their attack are reported to be valuable hardwood holdings. The green timber is reported ablaze. However, with practically no wind blowing today the fire fighters may be able to cut off the fire from a thousand-acre tract of timber nearby.
Badger Forest Fires Are Quenched by Heavy Rain
Ironwood Daily Globe - October 31, 1924
Laona, WI - A heavy rain in the eastern part of Forest county early this morning dispelled all fear of renewed outbreaks in the brush and forest fires which have swept over thousands of acres of cut-over land since last Saturday. Reports received here today from the timber belt near Blackwell, stated that all of the fires were well under control, and that the rain had put most of them in a smoldering state. However, 100 of the fighters were still on the alert today under the direction of W.P. Clawson, state fire warden.
400 Residents Stop Fires In Forest County
Appleton Post Crescent - May 9, 1925
Laona, Wisconsin - Aided by fire fighting apparatus from Rhinelander, Crandon and this city, between 300 and 400 residents of Forest
county Friday halted the progress of a forest and brush fire which threatened destruction of the village of Blackwell. Several large lumber camps in the vicinity were also saved, although considerable cut timber was destroyed. The flames at 2 p.m. reached within 100 feet of a house at Blackwell and the fire apparatus from the neighboring towns were summoned for an eleventh hour battle. A fortunate shift in the wind during the afternoon aided the fire fighters, gathered from miles around. Grave danger of a recurrence of the fire lies in another change in the wind's direction, reports from the village indicate. The fires became dangerous Thursday afternoon and squads of men from villages and various lumber camps were rushed to the burning areas. It was believed Friday that the fight had been successful, when the wind veered, forcing the flames toward Blackwell. The situation had become acute, with flames a stone's throw of the village. Farmers, lumbermen and villagers were rushed to the assistance of the town and the tide of the battle turned in the favor of the fighters shortly before 4 p.m. W.D Connor, Jr., Laona lumberman, who returned from the scene of the blaze Friday night, declares the situation in the northern counties of Forest, Vilas, Oneida and Langlade is acute.
Forest Chief Reports Fire Situation Bad
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune - May 15, 1925
Madison, WI - Forest fire situation in Marinette county and other sections of northern Wisconsin is growing more serious, with clear warm weather, C.L. Harrington, superintendent of forests, has advised Elmer S. Hall, state conservation commissioner. Local control is possible, however, and all agencies are working, he reported late yesterday from Dunbar. More than 800 men are fighting the fires in the northern part of the state, Mr. Hall said. The force at Dunbar numbers 200. Most of the fires apparently were caused by sparks from railroad locomotives, the commissioner said. Eighteen fires were burning in the vicinity of Laona late yesterday, with twelve under control, William P. Clausen, a fire warden, reported. A northeast wind was blowing and the weather was reported as extremely dry with general conditions “very dangerous.” “We are successful in holding the fires in virgin timber only, and occasionally not there,” the warden reported.
Laona Forest Fires Fanned to New Start
Appleton Post Crescent - May 19, 1925
Laona, Wisconsin - (AP) Woods fires fanned by a stiff breeze were assuming threatening proportions shortly before noon Tuesday. Several blazes hat were said to be in a smoldering state Monday came to life, and one fire 6 miles southwest of the observation tower here was reported out of control. National guards, whose order to return home was rescinded late Monday, were out in force since dawn. Battery B of Green Bay was dispatched to the fire area near Wabeno. Sergeant William Merry, of that unit sent word here at 9:30 that all fires there were under control. The Rhinelander contingent is battling with the blaze southwest of here, where farm houses and cottages along Stone Lake were threatened as the flames communicated with valuable tracts of green timber. At 10 o'clock this fire was not under control.
Men in Three States Wage Losing Fight
Appleton Post Crescent - May 20, 1925
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Threatening fires in brush and forests in northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan are being fought by forest rangers, settlers and state guardsmen, with the only hope of complete control lying in heavy rains, according to those directing the fight against the menace. Weather observers, however, are not holding much hope for a drenching rain. The village of Laona was threatened Tuesday, and one building on the outskirts burned, and Wednesday reports are to the effect that the situation is not greatly improved. Heavy winds are hindering the operation of the fire fighters. In Forest, Oneida, Oconto and Ashland counties, every effort is being made to control the scores of fires which have sprung up, due to the condition of the wood country, which old timers declare is dryer than any time during the last 40 years. Reports Wednesday morning were to the effect that the village of Townsend was threatened by a heavy fire which was but a mile from the outskirts, and running rapidly through the brush. Fire apparatus from many of the villages have been sent to fight the fires which are approaching towns and settlements, and several settlers are said to have been burned out. The house of Louis Thompson, living two miles east of Crandon was destroyed Tuesday, and Gus Oberts, who is ill was taken to Crandon on a stretcher, when it became apparent that his home would be destroyed. In Minnesota 30 fires are reported, and in northern Michigan a series of brush fires are causing alarm. Laona - No respite was in store Wednesday for National guards, who augmented by townsmen, battled through the night woods fires that virtually surrounded this village of 1,000 people. Forest Ranger William Clawson, in charge, stated Wednesday that there was no sign of the high west wind abating. It had been blowing all night after driving the flames to within a mile of Laona Tuesday afternoon. Backfiring was said to have saved the town. However it was still threatened. Three more fires were burning south of here. Only one dwelling was destroyed. That was located on the outskirts of the town. Exhausted guardsmen returning from the Stone Lake region, where green timber was ablaze all day Tuesday, reported that the farm buildings of a settler were burned. All live stock was saved they said. At one time Tuesday afternoon grave danger confronted Blackwell Junction south of Laona. The fire was stopped at almost the very edge of the station platform, according to the watchman in the observation tower here, who said "I saw the hardest fight of all." The first casualty among guardsmen occurred Tuesday, when a member of Battery B, Green Bay unit, was severely burned by flying embers.
Fire Conditions Reported Better
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune - May 21, 1925
Laona, WI - General conditions were reported improved early today when the night shift of forest fighters was relieved by the day crew. A light northeast wind blowing fanned the flames back over the areas already burned. Forest rangers reported progress against fires which broke out in virgin timber at Lake Wabikon west of Laona. Late yesterday this fire went out of control. At 3 p.m. Wednesday the blaze jumped fire lines into slashings near the lake, which is six miles west of Laona, and moved eastward into the heavily wooded sectors of virgin timber. The guardsmen were withdrawn from all other sections and moved rapidly within fighting distance of the fire. A fire line two miles long was established and the fire fighters started back firing. The woods were very heavy with smoke and the guardsmen were withdrawn last night and replaced by mill workers.
Praises Work of Men - At 11 o’clock today William P. Clausen, forest ranger directing activities, told the Associated Press that conditions
were not bad, but no one can foresee, he said, the result in case of heavy winds. A light northeast wind continued to blow and the general situation was relieved by heavy dew which settled on the forests at midnight. Mr. Clawson said that it is impossible to hold the fire in cut over or slashing areas. “We are successful only in virgin timber areas and in many cases not there,” he said. “The national guard and mill crews are doing fine work, but the men are tired, worn and fatigued from continuous work,” he continued. "The men," he said, "worked in relays, being relieved every five hours with a continuous crews on day and night".
Rain Clouds Pass Over - Town folks were disappointed last night when a canopy of black rain clouds passed over this section with only
leaving a few drops of moisture. Advices from points south of here in Oconto county were to the effect that rain somewhat relieved the situation there. The Stone lake fire near Crandon where losses to virgin timber were estimated at nearly a million dollars, assumed menacing proportions late yesterday. An emergency call was sounded and the surrounding towns were asked to rush all available help.
Wind Lowers, Forest Fires Still Burning
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune – July 30, 1929
Rhinelander, Wisconsin – Both relief and fresh apprehension were felt today when a strong west wind abated, after having driven forest fires over an area of more than 36 square miles along a seven mile front in Forest and Oconto counties during the last two days. With the wind down, the fire fighters were able for the first time to cope successfully with the conflagration, which during the night reached a point approximately six miles from Wabeno, Wisconsin. Fresh reinforcements last night joined the several hundred volunteers and state conservation department employees who are fighting the spread of the conflagration. Forty men went to the battle front from the camp of the Connor Lumber Company, at Laona, just north of Wabeno. They were joined by the entire saw mill crew of the Jones Company, of the latter city, who left their work to fight the flames. Late last night word of additional timber losses was also received. Valuable stands of the Jones Company had been reached by the flames, while a large tract along the Oconto county line, belonging to the Holt Lumber Company, of Oconto, was burned over. The camp and holdings of the Thompson Lumber Company, Carter, Wisconsin, were also reported to be in flames and hopelessly lost. No fatalities were reported in connection with the fire. No estimates of the fire loss were available early today. The blaze was spectacular in the extreme, with dense clouds of smoke rising above the pines and rolling across countryside that is dry as tinder because of the recent prolonged drought. Great tongues of yellow flame were seen leaping through the smoke. During the night the reflection of the blaze was visible for miles, while great eddies of sparks blew out of the billows of smoke until the wind subsided.
Flames Destroy Village; Raze Farm Buildings
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune – April 13, 1931
Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Forest fires, the scourge of timberland settlements, smoldered and flared menacingly today in sections of northern Wisconsin and upper Michigan. Flames which devastated one entire village and razed countless segregated farm buildings had abated with the dying breath of a strong, veering wind. Hundreds of acres of ash covered soil, the debris of homes, and the smoke-filled atmosphere remained however as an incentive for vigilance. Pressed into service at the first onslaught of the flames, forest rangers and volunteers patrolled the fire infested areas which extended over the greater part of what was once Wisconsin forestry domain. Hundreds of property owners maintained an all-night vigil to combat new and unexpected outbreaks of fire. Timber slashing's, made highly inflammable by tinder dryness occasioned by lack of snow and spring rains furnished the fuel which carried the fires in all directions. In the village of Wallace, north of Menominee, Michigan, only three buildings remained standing and the entire population of 150 persons were forced to flee without belongings. North of Wallace the village of Ingalls was isolated when communication lines were destroyed, Last accounts said the entire village was threatened. Oconto and Lena, Wisconsin, were among cities which suffered from the fire that razed Wallace. One dwelling in Oconto was burned and at Lena the telephone exchange and three other buildings were destroyed. Peshtigo, hemmed in for a time, escaped a reputation of the forest fire disaster of 1871 when 1,000 persons lost their lives there. One of the worst fires in the history of Forest county raged to within a mile and a half respectively of the cities of Crandon and Laona. Flames that towered 150 feet in the air swooped down upon Crandon until back firing operations and an expanse of cultivated soil on the west side of the city temporarily blocked the flames. Residents of Laona prepared last night to desert the city. Women and children began packing household furnishing while men fought desperately to control the flames. Hasty back-firing achieved a respite when the fire was within half a mile of the city, the smoke and ashes obscuring city street lights.
Tax Fiddling While the North Burns
Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune – April 15, 1931
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - The old story! Forest fires burn widely in upper Wisconsin. Marinette, Wisconsin Rapids, Park Falls, Crandon, Chippewa Falls, Lena, Wabeno, Laona, other places, are flame-encircled. This year the fires creep close, or sweep into, these towns. They destroy homes and other community property, not only forests. Less than a year ago many upper Wisconsin counties sent delegates to a meeting at Ashland. The delegates declared that the most vital need in the north is conservation, especially forest fire control. They so advised the legislature. They urged an annual appropriation of $1,000,000, to be expended for adequate patrol, modern equipment, trained men, motor trucks and cycles, and pumps – especially pumps! - with water sources laid out or established in reservoirs. Clearly that is the only way if Wisconsin is not to be gutted. Yet Wisconsin’s legislature, taxing right and left, levying millions for this and that, has failed even to discuss this fire situation. No adequate bill, no compensation measure to prevent and fight fire, has been presented. Instead the conservation budget has been cut almost in half and efforts have been made to wipe out the forestry mill tax – the only tax surely available for forest fire control. Unless wiped out, this tax will yield, for 1931, about $295,000, or a little better than one-quarter the needed sum. Yet $13,500,000 of new money is levied for highways. The highways are supposed to benefit the north. Where are they to go? To the ashes and blackened stumps of the fires at Marinette, Wisconsin Rapids, or Laona? To the charred acres of the fires at Wabeno, Crandon or Chippewa Falls?
Forest Blaze Raging in Connor Camp Area
Ironwood Daily Globe – Saturday August 28, 1937 (Associated Press)
Rhinelander, Wisconsin – A forest fire which started yesterday and has already burned more than 200 acres was raging today in a Connor Lumber Company hardwood slash area on the shores of Riley Lake in Forest county. A crew of 200 men is fighting the blaze, Nicolet Forest Supervisor Warren T. Murphy said. Rangers on the scene estimate that the blaze would be brought under control this afternoon.
Upstate Area In “Explosive” Fire Condition
The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh) – October 22, 1953
Eagle River, Wisconsin – The north-woods timber country today began its eighth week without an “effective rain” and rangers term the forest fire menace “explosive.” The U.S. Forest Service Station here said Wednesday its danger indicator was at 65 per cent, highest of the fall. Any reading over 50 per cent is considered extremely dangerous. The last “effective rain” – one of a half-inch or more – fell September 2. U.S. Forest Service Ranger Ken Elliot said the woods are in an “explosive condition” and standby crews are ready to rush into action if a fire breaks out. Long range forecasts indicate possible rain by the weekend, but there was no indication it would be heavy enough to relieve the forests. There have been four fires in the Nicolet National Forests in the past week – two near Laona, one near Florence and one near Lakewood. The largest one burned off eight acres. Both state and federal rangers have canceled burning permits in this area.