Disasters · Illinois

The Great Chicago Fire

October 10, 1871
Chicago, Illinois
The Great Chicago Fire is extinguished after 2 days

The exact cause for the fire is unknown, though it is known it started in a shed next to the barn belonging to the O’Leary family. Many speculations have been made regarding the events that led to the fire, including the still-prevalent theory Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern, a group of men gambling near the barn accidentally knocked over a lantern, and the possibility that this fire was simply one of several that occurred around in the Midwest that day.

Regardless of how it started, the fire decimated Chicago, killing approximately 300 people, destroying nearly 3.3 square miles of the city, and left more than 100,000 homeless. Relief funds and additional firefighting man power poured in from Milwaukee, Buffalo, New York, Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis, and London. Food and clothing donations were sent from around the continent, as well.

Today, a stylized flame statue rests atop the origin of the fire as a reminder of blaze.

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