The massive fires have removed important artifacts, but also led to significant reforms and rebuilding.Throughout history, fires have caused drastic changes in population patterns, infrastructure, and the course of world events. Citing the History page , here are five major fires that changed history.

Alexandria Library Fire
The Library of Alexandria is part of The Mouseion (“ Temple to the Muses ”) in Alexandria. It contained untold wealth. Knowledge of the ancient world, which contained half a million scrolls from Assyria, Greece, Persia, Egypt and India. Scholars from all over the world went there to study and work, including Euclid and Ptolemy.

This library was built under the rule of Ptolemy I Soter, a general of Alexander the Great and founder of Ptolemy of Egypt, in 283 BC. The destruction of the library was so dramatic that it was immortalized by playwright William Shakespeare.


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The fire that destroyed it was shrouded in controversy. Plutarch claims Julius Caesar started a blaze when he burned his ship in port while trying to seize control of the city in 48 BC.

Most scholars believe that the library branch survived at the Serapeum temple, only to be destroyed in 391 BC. by Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, and his Christian followers, who later built a church on the site. Regardless of who was to blame, the scroll containing ancient knowledge was lost to history forever.

The Great Fires of London
The 2020 California wildfires are not the first fires to occur during the pandemic. The Great London Fires raged in the city during the Black Plague and destroyed more than 13,000 homes, leaving 100,000 people homeless. From September 2 to September 6, 1666, fires destroyed much of the medieval city and damaged iconic buildings such as St. Paul.

People fled with as much belongings as they could, including diary writer Samuel Pepys, who escaped at 4 a.m. in his nightgown on the train.

Rebuilding London took more than 30 years, but Sir Christopher Wren’s urban planning can still be seen today in the city’s stone buildings and broader streets, which replaced the narrow alleyways and wooden structures that were engulfed in flames. The London fires also spawned two new industries, modern property insurance and fire fighting.

The Great Fires of New York
The Great Fires of 1835 broke out in the midst of a cholera epidemic in New York City. On the very cold night of December 16, 1835, a warehouse in the city center caught fire. Strong winds fanned the flames, leveling more than 17 city blocks and burning a portion of the frozen East River.

The city’s water supply was simply insufficient to slow the damage. New York City’s population has grown 60 percent in the last decade thanks to strong trade along the Erie Canal, and access to proper sanitation and clean water is still lacking.

From the ashes came innovation, the construction of the Puring Aqueduct in May 1837. It produced 12 million gallons a day, which gave firefighters what they needed to put out fires and deliver a pure source to home and business owners.

“It’s something that is desperately needed in cities fighting a persistent pandemic,” said Dan Levy, author of the upcoming Manhattan Phoenix. “It revolutionized the American water system and became a training ground for a whole generation of American engineers, who then created the aqueduct, the rail. trains and canals. ”

Great Fires of Chicago
The Great Fires of Chicago took place from October 8 to October 10, 1871. 300 people were killed and more than 90,000 homeless. One third of the city was destroyed. Because Chicago was at the heart of the national telegraph network, which was recently linked with Europe, the great fire was the first international news event.

Then what happened after the fire transformed Chicago and made it a powerful new business center. More than $ 10 million has been donated to the community. This was immediately accompanied by a large capital investment.

Due to Chicago’s important position between natural resources in the interior of America and consumer appetite for grain, meat, and various commodities and other goods from the East and Europe, it makes rebuilding a high priority and a good investment for investors. As a result, fire became important to Chicago’s image as the embodiment of the irresistible power of modernity in America.

Arsonis Reichstag fire burns the Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament, on February 27, 1933. Adolf Hitler, a politician who had just been appointed Reich Chancellor a month earlier, blamed the communists for lighting the fire.

“The Reichstag fires were critical to Hitler’s consolidation of power,” said Benjamin Hett, professor and author of Burning the Reichstag. “This provides a pretext for emergency legislation informally known as the Reichstag Fire Decree which tore up the democratic Weimar constitution and ended freedom of speech and assembly, privacy of letters and freedom from arrest without charge,” he added.

A little less well-known, but most importantly, is that the Decree allowed the Hitler Reich government to take over any state government in Germany that did not “maintain order.” Several state governments were in the hands of staunch opponents of the Nazis, so this power was very important. To this day, the identity of the arsonists is still being debated.


by Abdullah Sam
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