The Great Fire of Chicago

It emerged as a city of opportunities and soon in the 1850s nearly 100,000 immigrants came to the city and by the year 1870 it had a population of 300,000.When Chicago became a city, the houses built were mostly made out of wood, there were close-knit wooden houses along the streets. The city only had one water station for the entire population that was constantly growing. Concerning the situation the city trustees expressed the need for a fire department, however, the city’s fire insurance remained haphazard and nearly 900 houses were wooden. Another destructive cause of the Chicago fires was their inexperienced and untrained firefighters working under the volunteer fire departments. In the year 1855, Chicago got its first fire alarm system and it divided the city into six districts, the first official fire department in the city was established in 1858. Between this period of 1858 and 1871 the city experience about 3,700 fires out of which eight were major ones. By the year 1871, Chicago had experienced great expansion and constituted of nearly 60, 000 building out of which 90% were made out of wood moreover. it had wooden streets, side-walks, the wooden industry in the center and the lumber yards that churned the fire (Cowan, 2001).The weather conditions had been quite rough too as there were only two and a half inches of rain in the city in the period from July 3 to October 9, 1871. On average the city experienced about two fires everyday which had been going on for the past year and there were 20 fires in the last week. The fire department was understaffed and it constantly complained about the inadequate equipment which included only 17 steamers and only four ladder and hooks (The Great Chicago Fire).On 8th October 1871, between 8:30 pm to 10:30 pm, Chicago was struck by the most devastating fire of the 19th century in the history of America.