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The Great Chicago Fire Of 1871

2205 words - 9 pages

The Great Chicago Fire was a major milestone in the city’s history. The fire started on October 8th, 1871 and did not end until October 10th, 1871. People never saw this fire coming which might have made it even worse. The only reason it spread so far was because everything was made out of wood, the ground was parched and the wind was blowing that night; the reason it stopped was because it had started raining. Although the fire destroyed most of the city, it was a positive turning point in history. The Chicago Fire improved firefighting and their equipment, new buildings that were made out of fireproof materials, and it brought big investors to the city.
There were more than 334,000 people in Chicago at the time (Burgan). Ninety percent of the buildings in Chicago were made out of wood during the 1800’s. Streets and even sidewalks were also made out of wood. There were fifty-six miles of wooden roads and five hundred and sixty one miles of sidewalks. In 1871, there was little to no rain during that summer, therefore, the ground was very dry which made it more vulnerable. Mr. and Mrs. O’Leary were some residents in Chicago at this time; they lived at 137 DeKoven Street where the fire actually started. The O’Leary’s had five children; they also had a barn filled with five cows, one calf, one horse, two tons of hay and two tons of coal which was a huge fire hazard. The barn and everything in it was Mrs. O’Leary’s livelihood but the barn was not insured because they were very poor. Mr. O’Leary worked as a laborer, and Mrs. O’Leary kept her cows in a barn selling their milk to the neighbors (Edmond).
October 8th, 1871, was one of the worst days in history. A fire started at the O’Leary residence at about nine o’clock at night ( some people say that it might have started by a cow kicking over a lantern, other people or even by a meteorite, but they just are not sure how it actually started ( this fire burned out more than two thousand acres and four city blocks (Potter). It was four miles long and one mile wide. A watchman atop of a building saw the flame, but he just thought it was from a previous fire. The firefighters had a fire the night before so they were exhausted. Their equipment got destroyed in the fire the night before and in this fire. One of the firefighters said “from the beginning of that fatal fire, everything went wrong!” (Potter). Once the firefighters heard about the fire they ended up at the wrong address so it took twice as long to get to the fire. Out of the 334,000 people in Chicago there were only two hundred firefighters. The fire destroyed the town’s water pump so they could not get any water from the hydrants. The firefighters had to carry buckets of water from Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, but it took too long and was too far away (Edmond). Since there were few firefighters and they were running out of water, the town asked for help from nearby towns, but by the time the help got...

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