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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 the first 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 59500 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 OLeary 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
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