Fire Prevention Week (October 8-14, 2017) has been commemorated since 1922, making it the longest running public health observance in the U.S. The week always includes the date of October 9, in remembrance of the Great Chicago Fire that destroyed more than 17,400 structures, left 100,000 homeless, and killed 250.
While legend has it that “Mrs. O’Leary’s cow” started the blaze by knocking over a lantern in a barn, a Chicago Tribune reporter later admitted that he had made the story up. The real origin of the fire is still unknown, although there are a number of theories, including a meteorite.
Few fires today, if any, are started by careless bovine or falling space debris. Cooking equipment is by far the most common culprit, followed by heating equipment, electrical faults, intentional fires and smoking.