When we as Americans think of famously tragic fires, our first thought is often the Chicago Fire. On the night of October 8th 1871, a two day conflagration began which killed hundreds of people and destroyed about 4 square miles of the town.
You may have heard about the O’Leary’s cow kicking over a lantern. The reporter who first reported this story admitted in 1893 that he made it up as it was “colorful copy.” The Great Chicago Fire was bad, in fact it’s considered one of the greatest disasters of the 19th Century. But it wasn’t the worst fire of the 19th Century, and it wasn’t even the worst fire on October 9th, 1871.
2. The Port Huron Fire
50 people and 1.2 million acres were destroyed in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula. The towns of Port Huron and White Rock were also destroyed.
The death toll is a guess, and although the UP was largely uninhabited at the time, countless trappers and Native Americans were known to be in the area but never found.
1. The Peshtigo Fire of Wisconsin
The deadliest fire in U.S. History, it consumed 1.5 million acres, 12 towns, and at least 2500 lives. The true toll will never be known since everything was reduced to ash, including the residency records. This fire was so massive that it jumped over a 4 mile wide part of Green Bay as well as the Peshtigo River.
Not making the list of fires bigger than the Chicago fire, the town of Holland, Michigan was destroyed by a separate fire, also on October 9th, 1871. Although there was only one death, more than 400 structures were destroyed, leaving thousands of people homeless and jobless.
There are numerous theories regarding the rash of fires on the night of the 8th, but the least likely is mad cow disease.
As this post needs to be in some way helpful, let me leave you with this:Before you use the stairs, try water.