Throughout history, fire has been both a blessing and a curse. It is only through the use and harnessing of fire that man was able to cook food, forge metals, and develop modern structures, but with these advantages comes a risk. Fire is incredibly powerful and can devastate a farm, a home, or even an entire city. This list discusses some of the largest and most destructive fires that have ever taken place. Many of these changed more than just the physical landscape of any area. They have also resulted in the creation of home and property insurance to protect homeowners.
1. Tokyo, Japan
In 1923, the city of Tokyo suffered from a large earthquake. This earthquake took place in the middle of the day when most homes were using fire to cook lunch. Several small fires grew to an uncontrollable size due to strong winds coming off the ocean, and the result was more than 142,000 deaths that day. This fire remains one of the most fatal and devastating natural disasters of all time.
2. Halifax, Nova Scotia
Since this large fire took place during the middle of fighting in World War II, it remains relatively unknown to this day. In 1917, two ships collided with one another in the harbor of Halifax. Unfortunately, one of the ships was full of ammunition, resulting in a massive explosion and fires along the shoreline. The entire harbor town was destroyed and resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 local residents.
3. Chicago, Illinois
This fire that took place in 1871 is perhaps the best known fire in American history. Many people mistakenly believe that the fire was started by a cow kicking over a lantern, while in fact the fire originated from a small barn in the town. Although it burned down the homes of more than 90,000 people, the slow spread of the fire meant that fewer than 300 people died. While the fire was certainly a disaster for many, it resulted in the creation of a new Chicago that exists today.
4. San Francisco, California
The great fire of San Francisco took place in 1906 as a result of a morning earthquake. Just like in the large Tokyo fire, lamps and stoves were overturned and homes rapidly caught on fire. Since the earthquake damaged the city's water supply, it was nearly impossible to stop the flames and 3,000 people died along with 300,000 buildings that were destroyed.
5. London, England
One of the most influential fires in European history was the 1666 fire in London. Over 13,000 structures were burned over the course of two days. As a result, the city was completely rebuilt using brick instead of wood. Today, most British buildings are still made from bricks.
Each of these fires devastated a particular area, and each also had a significant death toll. With each, however, we have learned valuable lessons like using fire resistant building materials and preparing for natural disasters.
Andrew Jamerson is a freelance writer who blogs about insurance policies that offer protection from fire damage, including contracts that provide cheaper insurance for landlords. Find out how to apply for this insurance today.