The Chicago Fire of 1871

Essay by john liviaJunior High, 8th gradeA+, February 1996

download word file, 2 pages 3.2

Downloaded 65 times


The summer of 1871 had been an unusually dry one in Chicago. Between July and

October, only 5 inches of rain fell. In addition to twenty-seven fires in the first week of

October, on Saturday night, October 7, a blaze broke out in a planning mill on the West

Side and destroyed almost every building in a four block area before it was brought under

control Sunday morning. They lost a hose and other fire-fighting equipment, including

one of seventeen steam fire engines and a hose cart. Nearly half of Chicago's 185 firemen

fought this fire and many were on duty all day, so they were already exhausted when

the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 struck.

Some people think that the fire was started by Mrs. O'leary's cow kicking over a

lantern. Others have different theories, but one thing is for sure,on the Sunday evening of

October 8, 1871 a blaze started in Mrs.

O' leary's barn. Daniel sullivan sat on the wooden

sidewalk when he saw a flame in Mrs. O'leary's barn. He managed to save a half grown

calf. By now everyone in the neighborhood woke up, including the sleeping O'learys. The

'America' hose cart was the first to reach the scene. They were soon joined by the

'Little Giant' engine company. A neighbor ran to a drug store to turn on an alarm but the

alarm failed to work. The court house watchman had given wrong directions but later

tried to correct his mistake, but the alarm operator was eating dinner so she refused to

correct the mistake. The fire engines went about 1 mile south of where the fire was. By

the time the problem was resolved ,a number of hose carts and fire engines were fighting

to keep this fire...