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Word Count: 626
The legend goes The cow kicked over a lantern the lantern set fire to the shed and the shed set fire to the rest of Chicago Although Mrs Patrick OLeary swore under oath that she never took a lantern to the shed on the night of Sunday October 8 1871 many witnesses verified the ramshackle building on the West Side as the starting point of the fire In Chicago it had been a very dry autumn Furthermore nearly all the 300000 people of the city lived in wooden houses The fire department was aware of the danger as there had been a tremendous three-alarm fire on the West Side one-day prior A constant wind blowing from the southwest fanned the flames roaring through the wooden structures of the city By the time fire companies arrived the fire was beyond their control Approximately 18000 buildings in the heart of the city burned to cinders Many people got away unharmed Only an estimated three hundred perished Citizens hurried into nearby parks and out to the edge of the city Thousands of people fled to the safe haven of the beaches and shores along the edge of Lake Michigan By Monday newspapers from all over were reporting the caustic disaster Many artists began illustrating the devastating effect of the fire Alfred R Waud and Ralph Keeler boarded a train for Chicago to cover the story for Every Saturday They arrived while the flame was still ablaze in some parts of the city By midnight October 8 most of the city was engulfed in flames causing the sky above the city to dance with burning brands and hot coals stretching for hundreds of yards The steady wind blew the amber colored coals to buildings still far from the swath devastated by the advancing front of the fire A firemans account examines the condition of the city You couldnt see anything over you by fire No clouds no stars nothing
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