One of the worst prairie fires occurred the afternoon of November 6, 1914, when a teacher and three pupils of a country school were burned to death, and three other children so badly burned that their death was only a question of hours.
The fire was started some 17 miles southwest of Belfield, North Dakota 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 stood almost untouched and would have kept them safe while the fire demon swept by, and made superhuman 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.