O'Leary's cow, or comet?
March 7, 2004 11:21 AM Subscribe
Physicist Robert Wood is reviving a 120 year old theory that the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was started by cometary debris from Beila's comet that had previously been observed to fragment after a close encounter with Jupiter. Wood's orbital analysis puts a fragment of Beila near Earth at the time of the fires. The theory would explain a number of previously unexplained events like multiple eyewitness accounts of fire falling from the sky, and how a single-source blaze from a barn spread to include a large portion of the city. Perhaps most importantly, the Great Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin that killed 1,200 people ignighted on the some night. However the comet theory has been discarded by Peshtigoand Chicago Fire historians who note that the upper midwest was dry with a multitude of smaller fires in the same season. The truth may never be known but the speculation is interesting.
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