Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Great Chicago Fire, Map, Ariel & Alternative. View

Here is a pair of looks of the Great Chicago Fire which took place on October 8-10 1871. The generally accepted view is that it was started by a fire that took place in a barn owned by the O'Leary family. George one of the O'Leary boys went on to become a big time gambler. There is an excellent post on this at the Chicago Crime Scene Project. In the post they discuss some alternative theories about how the fire started and they all center on the O'Leary barn.

 A map of the area covered from the Homicide In Chicago 1870-1930 site.

 And I came across this birds eye view on the Library of Congress web site.

There is one explanation for the fire that they missed on that site which also offers an explanation for the two other huge fires that all started the same night in other parts of the midwest. I came across this explanation on Wikipedia.

"An alternative theory, first suggested in 1882 by Ignatius L. Donnelly in Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel, is that the Great Chicago Fire was caused by a meteor shower. At a 2004 conference of the Aerospace Corporation and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, engineer and physicist Robert Wood suggested that the fire began when Biela's Comet broke up over the Midwest. That four large fires took place, all on the same day, all on the shores of Lake Michigan (see Related Events), suggests a common root cause. Eyewitnesses reported sighting spontaneous ignitions, lack of smoke, "balls of fire" falling from the sky, and blue flames. According to Wood, these accounts suggest that the fires were caused by the methane that is commonly found in comets.[18]"

An interesting idea so I decided to take a look at these other fires. I looked around and came across this map that led me to a fairly extensive post on the fires here on Heck Of A Guy – The Other Leonard Cohen Site

As it turns out the fire in Wisconsin killed more people than Chicago and as we can see the one in Michigan covered a lot more area. So as "great" as the Chicago fire was it was just a small part of a much larger conflagration.


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