On October 15, 1908, raging fires swept the pine forests of Presque Isle County. When the flames approached the village of Metz, a train jammed with women and children left for Posen, five miles away. At Nowicki's siding, two miles out of town, huge piles of blazing wood lined the track. As the engine raced past the siding, where intense heat had warped the rails, the train left the track, leaving an open car full of refugees in the center of the flames. Sixteen were killed and dozens of others badly burned. Throughout this part of the state hundreds were left homeless, as many homes and farms were devastated. Supplies soon poured in so that shelters could be erected before the onset of the northern winter.
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