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Fire in Chicago Union Stockyards

  • Updated June 28, 2021
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It all began on a cold morning in Chicago, although this detail is not important because all mornings in Chicago during the winter are cold. The year is 1910 and the morning has started early on December 22 at four A.M. Little did all of Chicago know that this cold morning was different not because of the weather but because the day would end in a tragedy in which will become the greatest loss of professional big-city firefighters in U.S history.

Chicago Union Stockyards have become a booming business which have turned into one of the world’s most successful centers of manufacturing. Inside one the basements of Warehouse 7, a warehouse that is supervised by one of the top meatpacking organizations in the stockyard is where it all began.

As the basement began to catch on fire due to a faulty electrical socket, a night watchman who can perhaps be thought of as a guardian angel, observed that black smoke had been rising from the warehouse basement. The watchman rushed to ring the alarm at 43rd and Loomis street.

Refrigerated warehouses have always been stamped as dangerous fire hazard. The inner walls made out of wood which are immersed in fat and grease from the animals being stored there are what make this warehouse a target. At this moment several disadvantages begin to emerge for the fireman as they began to try and stop the fire.

The firefighters begin to face two different obstacles. First the nearby fire hydrants and second the physical disadvantages. As the firefighters discovered that the fire hydrants had been previously turned off to prevent freezing they rushed to the water valves. By the time they reached the the warehouse was immersed in flames.

The second obstacle was caused by several warehouses, cars, etc. that began to surround Warehouse 7. These physical barriers began to make the option of the firefighters setting up ladders to reach the windows on the upper floor an impossible one.

As time began to press on the air inside the warehouse began to expand because of the heat from the fire. 5 A.M that morning the building yielded an enormous explosion. As the explosion was occurring Chief Fire Marshal James Horan had begun to arrive at the scene, the wall collapsed killing him, the second chief in command, three captains, four lieutenants, and twelve other firefighters.

As the explosion occurred a neighboring seven story lard house began to catch on fire. At the moment all manpower present at the scene were told to try and rescue the firefighters that had been buried by the collapsed wall. Charles Seyferlich became the new chief in command and his first order of business was to call as many special forces as he could. The firefighters began to work for more than a day before the fire was put out completely.

As the fire was finally put out, several dead bodies were found hidden in the remains of the collapsed building. The firefighters took almost another 24 hours to draw out the bodies from the debris.

As a refrigerated warehouse being an evident fire hazard what new safety measures can we begin to implement to ensure the safety of our future firefighters when entering the stockyards?

Our hearts remain with the families who have lost their loved ones, this is a time for all of us in Chicago to come together.

Cite this paper

Fire in Chicago Union Stockyards. (2021, Jun 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/fire-in-chicago-union-stockyards/

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