by Steve Wagers

Keep the Fire Burning
Steve Wagers
II Timothy 1:6-9


By the year 1871, Chicago had become one of America's major cities, spurred by the growth of the railroad, and the boom created by the Civil War. Chicago, at that time, was the lumber capital of the world, which was reflected by the wood construction of the majority of it's buildings. It occupied an area 6 miles long by 3 miles wide along Lake Michigan, and was divided into three sections by the Chicago River: the North Section, which contained homes of the wealthy and upper-middle class; the South Section, which was a mixture of wealthy homes, as well as business establishments; and, the West Section, which housed the homes of factory workers, and industrial plants. Among the elite businessmen of Chicago, in that day, were Potter Palmer, who built the city's largest department store. Chicago Tribune editor Joseph Medill, composer George Fredrick Root; and, Cyrus McCormick, the inventor of the reaper. Needless to say, the city of Chicago was one of prominence, power, and prestige during the middle to late of the 1870's.

However, the year 1871, was also a year that changed the entire course, as well as, city of Chicago. For, on Sunday, October 8, at approximately 8:45 p.m., at 137 DeKoven Street, on the city's west side, the greatest fire that city has ever seen broke out, in what was later called the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It occurred at a barn owned by a man named Patrick O'Leary. Unconfirmed reports showed that the fire was caused by a cow who kicked over a lantern. However, further investigation showed that it was the drunken Mr. O'Leary who knocked over the lantern. The result was a fire that raged for 29 hours, and covered 73 miles of streets. By the time it was over, $200 million of property was destroyed, 300 people killed, and 100,000 homeless after a span of three days. 1

The United States Fire Administration recently revealed that, in each year, fire kills ...

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