Eric Edward Esper
The Firestorm of Peshtigo
2017
Oil on linen
16x39
October 8 1871, the same night of the Great Fire of Chicago, and The Michigan forest fires. A cold front moved in from the west fanning land clearance fires out of control, reaching tornado force winds of up to 100 mile per hour, moving a wall of flame 5 miles wide across vast forests of northeast Wisconsin. It burned more than 1800 square miles or 1.2 million acres along both coasts of Green Bay 100 miles north to Michigan, destroying 12 communities, and an estimated death toll of 1200- 2500 people. Pestigo city had approximately 1750 residents at the time and had to bury more than 350 unidentified bodies in a mass grave.
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