The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 Essay

1465 Words6 Pages
The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was one of the largest disasters in American history. Practically overnight the great city of Chicago was destroyed. Before the fire there was a large drought causing everything to be dry and flammable, then a fire broke out in the O’Leary’s barn and spread throughout the city. Many attempts were made to put out the fire but there were too many errors and problems in the beginning. After the fire many people were left homeless and had to help build their city again (Murphy, 39) Before the fire broke out on Sunday night, October 8, 1871 there had been a large drought causing everything to be dry and extremely flammable. Many fires had been breaking out in Chicago. Records show that in 1870 the fire…show more content…
An anarchist group called the Societe Internatianale was blamed, and even a fire extinguisher salesman was accused because people say he was showing people how his product was useful. The editor of one paper said that a higher being was responsible and that God was balancing the acts done by the North to the South in the Civil War. No one is sure how the fire started, but the O’Learys were the scapegoats and got a lot of bad treatment after the fire (126). The fire spread from the O’Learys’ barn to the yards nearby. Soon it was spreading throughout the neighborhood. William Lee, a neighbor a block away, saw the fire and ran to Bruno Goll’s drugstore to turn in the fire alarm. Bruno Goll refused to turn in the alarm because he said the fire truck had already gone past. So instead of arguing, Lee went home to his family. At the courthouse the lookout on duty saw smoke, but thought nothing of it, thinking it was just Saturday's fire and there was no reason to be alarmed. Then he looked up and noticed it was a different fire and had his assistant strike the Box 342 for the fire department. Soon fire trucks were at the scene and attempted to put out the fire. The fire department’s Chief Marshal, Robert A. Williams got the engines to circle the fire to contain it. They got as close to the fire as they could until their arm hair was being burned and their
Open Document