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Moose Lake commemorates 90th anniversary of 1918 Fire

Ninety years ago this Sunday, Oct. 12, the Great Fire of 1918 devastated the Carlton, Pine, Aitkin and St. Louis counties region in Minnesota's largest natural disaster.

Lynsey Hagen and Josh Isaacson

Ninety years ago this Sunday, Oct. 12, the Great Fire of 1918 devastated the Carlton, Pine, Aitkin and St. Louis counties region in Minnesota's largest natural disaster.

In recognition of that milestone, the Moose Lake Area Historical Society will pay homage to the survivors of that fire as well as to the 453 victims who lost their lives in it.

The commemoration events will begin Friday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. with a performance of the play, "After the Fire," at the Moose Lake School auditorium.

Written by a local author, this play gives life to personal accounts from northern Minnesota citizens who experienced the horror of the fires.

The performance will be repeated at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students.

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Also, luminaries will be lighted at dusk on Saturday at Riverside Cemetery to honor fire victims and fire survivors. Weather permitting, they will remain in place through Sunday afternoon. Luminaries can be purchased at the Depot for $5.

The fire commemoration will begin at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12, following a short concert by the Moose Lake Area Community Band. The events will take place at the Fire Monument located in Riverside Cemetery. The presentation will be moved to Hope Lutheran Church in event of inclement weather.

The program will begin with an address from Mayor Ted Shaw, followed by guest speaker Glenn Maxham, the author of the book, "Hellfire and Damnation."

The names of those lost in the fire will also be read.

A gathering of survivors, all of whom are now in their 90s or older, will be saluted at the monument.

Coffee and refreshments will be served immediately following the ceremony at Hope Lutheran Church. Seating may be limited, so attendees are asked to bring lawn chairs.

The historical society also invited interaction with the younger generation by sponsoring a drawing contest for Moose Lake elementary students. The kids were asked to design a poster with the "I Love Moose Lake" theme. Winners will receive Dairy Queen coupons and a ticket to the "After The Fire" performance.

Special film programs will be running at the Depot and Fires of 1918 Museum throughout the weekend of the commemoration. The DVD of the History of Moose Lake, as well as the Album fire program will be shown. The Depot closes for the season at 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 12.

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