Fire Prevention Week

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Fire Prevention Week's history

The history of Fire Prevention Week has its roots in the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on October 9, 1871, and killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres in 27 hours.

While the origin of the fire has never been determined, there has been much speculation over how it began. One popular legend, which was recently refuted by a Chicago historian, is that Mrs. Catherine O'Leary was milking her cow when the animal kicked over a lamp, setting the O'Leary barn on fire and starting the spectacular blaze.

On the Great Chicago Fire's 40th anniversary, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (FMANA) sponsored the first National Fire Prevention Day, advocating an annual observation as a way to keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention.