The Grea Calamity

The Great Fire of 1871 was one of the most colossal disasters in American history.Overnight, the flourishing city of Chicago was turned into a smoldering wasteland.The damage was so profound that few people believed the city could ever rise again.
There had been little rain that year, and various other fires occurred.More than 600 fires occurred in 1870, and 27 in thefirst week of October alone. Murphy 19-20)Most of these fires originated in barns because of the highly flammable hay located there.Lanterns would be knocked over, and flames would catch the hay causing fire to break out.
The evening of October 8, 1871 was unusually warm.There had been a strong wind coming off the prairie all day.Chicago had also been going through a drought that made grasses, wood, and everything else in the city extremely dry. (Murphy 13)These conditions were just right for a fire.Little did people know, that the wind and drought were going to help destroy their magnificent city.
Moreover, Chicago in 1871 was a city ready to burn.The city boasted having 59,500 buildings, many of them– such as the courthouse and the tribune building– large and intricately decorated.The trouble was that about two-thirds of all these structures were made entirely of wood.Even the sidewalks and heavy streets were paved with wooden blocks. (Murphy 18-19)
It was a Sunday evening, and a normal one for Catherine and Patrick O’Leary, which means they had gone to bed early because they had to awaken early in the morning for chores.Daniel “Peg Leg” Sullivan just happened to be riding by the house numbered 137 on DeKoven Street at the time the blaze broke out.As the hungry flames licked the side of the tool shed, Sullivan, in panic, began to yell, “Fire!Fire!” (Murphy 14)All the neighbors were alerted and the fire had their attention too, as the swirling wind drove the fire into their yards.The O’Leary’s remained asleep until one cit…


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