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- Cook County -

The Great Chicago Fire
(October 8 - 10, 1871

Very little rain had fallen during the summer and fall of 1871. Days without rain turned into weeks and everywhere it was tinder dry; a powder keg just waiting for a spark. On October 8th fires broke out throughout the entire region. The most well known, but not the deadliest, was the Great Chicago Fire.

The widely known story is that the fire was started when Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern in the barn behind the O'Leary home at 13 DeKoven street on the evening of October 8th. The truth is that nobody is certain exactly how the fire started and the story possibly has its roots in the anti-Irish sentiment of the day.

Rain began to fall on the morning of October 10th but by then over 300 people were dead, thousands more left homeless and the entire central district of Chicago was a burned out wasteland.


Newspaper Accounts


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This page last updated on  Sunday, August 31, 2014
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