Everyone remembers the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but the blaze that left over 300 dead and thousands homeless was not the last disaster to scorch the city — not by a long shot.
On Dec. 22, 1910, a fire broke out at the Morris and Co. meatpacking plant at the Union Stockyards, burning out of control despite the efforts of many heroic firefighters. During the fight, a wall collapsed on 21 men, killing all of them. The event began the single largest killing of firefighters in the line of duty until Sept. 11, 2001.
The fire would rage until the following day. The Chicago Daily News’ afternoon coverage on Dec. 22 showed a harrowing scene that offered no end in sight. That afternoon, a fire at Warehouse 6 “broke out afresh at 2:30 p.m. and another desperate rally on the part of the fighters of the flames was necessitated to keep it confined,” the paper reported. Thick, black smoke billowed out from the warehouse, preventing responders from spraying the fire directly.