Is there any proof that Mrs. O'Leary's cow did in fact start the Great Chicago fire?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question has always been such a point of interest for me.  There was a TV show on not long ago that was working on debunking the story that the fire was Mrs. O'Leary's fault.  The guys built a fire about where the Sullivan's house was and put wood chips in small boxed areas to see how far an ember might fly and fall in order to begin the fire (thus putting the fault on the Sullivans and their party rather than the milkwoman and her cow).  They came to the conclusion that it was possible for an ember to fly from the Sullivans and set fire to the thatched roof of the O'Leary's barn.  In addition, they explored the possibility of a spontaneous combustion in the hay of the O'Leary barn (not probable as the smoke produced would be detected long before flame ever erupted).  I can't find that link, but the story in the first link below reveals all the other options for the fire's cause.  Check out the following links for help in your quest.  Good Luck!

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The Great Fire

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