October 8 - 1871 - The Great Chicago Fire Breaks Out
The Great Chicago Fire was unbelievably destructive. The combination of a massive conflagration and a booming city made mostly of wooden homes meant the fire spread quickly, while a particular weather pattern known as a "fire whirl" made the fire even more destructive. The immediate blame was given to Mrs. O'Leary's cow for kicking over a lantern, because it was absolutely clear that the fire began in the barn of the O'Leary house on De Koven Street. Yet the story of the cow was probably fallacious, and it might have been started by a milk theft or a craps game. The other possibility, which helps explain concurrent fires in the Midwest, is that a meteor fell over Lake Michigan. But that's not perfect either.