7 Fires That Changed History

Throughout history, fires have led to drastic changes in population patterns, infrastructure, and the course of world events. Here are seven fires that changed history.

1. The Burning of the Great Library of Alexandria

The Library of Alexandria was part of The Mouseion (“Temple to the Muses”) at Alexandria. It contained incalculable wealth: The knowledge of the ancient world, stored in half a million scrolls from Assyria, Greece, Persia, Egypt and India. Scholars from around the globe traveled there to study and work, including Euclid and Ptolemy. The library was built under the rule of Ptolemy I Soter, a general of Alexander the Great and the founder of Ptolemaic Egypt, in 283 B.C.

The library’s destruction was so dramatic it has been immortalized by playwrights from William Shakespeare—“Play conqueror all you want, Mighty Caesar…But neither you nor any other barbarian has the right to destroy one human thought!”—to Tom Stoppard: “The enemy…burned the great library of Alexandria without so much as a fine for all that is overdue!”

The fire that destroyed it is cloaked in controversy. Plutarch claims Julius Caesar started the blaze when he set his ships on fire in the harbor while trying to wrest control of the city in 48 B.C. Most scholars believe a branch of the library survived in the temple of Serapeum, only to be destroyed in 391 B.C. by Theophilus, bishop of Alexandria, and his Christian followers, who later built a church on the site. Regardless of who is to blame, priceless scrolls containing ancient knowledge were lost to history forever.

READ MORE: 8 Legendary Ancient Libraries

2. The Great Fire of London

The California wildfires of 2020 aren’t the first conflagration to strike during a pandemic; The Great Fire of London raced through the city during the Black Plague and destroyed over 13,000 homes, leaving 100,000 people homeless. From September 2-September 6, 1666, the fire gutted the majority of the medieval city and damaged iconic buildings like St. Paul's Cathedral. People fled with as many belongings as they could carry, including diarist Samuel Pepys, who escaped at 4 a.m. in his nightgown in a cart, writing: “Lord! to see how the streets and the highways are crowded with people running and riding, and getting of carts at any rate to fetch away things.”

Rebuilding London took over 30 years, but the city planning of Sir Christopher Wren can still be seen today in the city’s stone buildings and wider streets, which replaced the narrow alleys and wooden structures the fire had claimed. The London fire also gave birth to two brand-new industries: modern property insurance and fire brigades.

READ MORE: When London Faced a Pandemic—And a Devastating Fire

3. The Great Fire of New York

The Great Fire of 1835 occurred in the midst of a cholera epidemic in New York City. On the bitterly cold night of December 16, 1835, a downtown warehouse caught on fire. Strong winds fanned the flames, leveling over 17 city blocks and setting part of the frozen East River on fire as turpentine leaked from storehouses onto the water.

The city’s water supply was woefully inadequate for slowing the destruction. New York City’s population had grown 60 percent in the past decade thanks to robust trade along the Erie Canal, and access to proper sanitation and clean water was lacking.

From the ashes rose innovation: the building of the Croton Aqueduct in May 1837. “It brought in 12 million gallons a day, which gave firemen what they needed to fight flames and delivered a pure source to homeowners and businesses—something desperately required in a city battling persistent pandemic,” says Dan Levy, author of the forthcoming Manhattan Phoenix. “It revolutionized American water systems and became a training ground for a whole generation of American engineers, who would go on to create the nation’s aqueducts railroads, and canals.”

4. The Great Chicago Fire

The Great Chicago Fire lasted from October 8 to October 10, 1871. It left 300 people dead and over 90,000 homeless. A third of the city was destroyed. “Since Chicago was at the center of the nation’s telegraphic network, which was recently linked to Europe, the great fire was the first instantaneous international news event,” says Carl S. Smith, author of Chicago's Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City.

"The Great Rebuilding" that occurred in the fire’s wake transformed Chicago and made it a new, powerful hub for business. Over $10 million was donated to the community. “This was soon accompanied by a great deal of capital investment,” says Smith, “since Chicago’s crucial position between the natural resources of the American hinterland and the consumer appetites—for grain, meat, and a wide range of other commodities and goods— of the East and Europe made its rebuilding a high priority and a sound investment for investors. The fire became critical to the image of Chicago as the embodiment of the irresistible force of modernity in America.”

WATCH: The Great Chicago Fire on HISTORY Vault

5. Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

WATCH: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on March 25, 1911 killed 146 employees of the Triangle Waist Company who were trapped in the Asch Building in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Many leapt to their deaths in twos and threes or perished in droves by locked exits. “Everybody who jumped was killed. It was a horrifying spectacle,” said eyewitness Frances Perkins. Most of the victims were young women and immigrants, many of whom had come to the United States in hopes of a better life.

The fire united organized labor, and public outcry over the incident pressured the national government to take action to protect workers, leading to new workplace safety laws. Perkins was so outraged that she devoted her life to defending workers’ rights. She went on to help set up the Factory Investigating Commission and eventually became Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor during the New Deal, transforming the landscape of work in America.

READ MORE: How the Horrific Tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Led to Workplace Safety Laws

6. The Reichstag Fire

Arsonists set the Reichstag, the seat of German parliament, on fire on February 27, 1933. Adolf Hitler, a rising politician who had just been named Reich Chancellor a month earlier, blamed communists for setting the blaze.

“The Reichstag fire was crucial to Hitler’s consolidation of power,” says Benjamin Hett, professor and author of Burning the Reichstag. “It supplied a pretext for an emergency law—known informally as the Reichstag Fire Decree—which tore the democratic Weimar constitution apart and put an end to freedom of speech and assembly, privacy of the mail and freedom from arrest without charge.

A bit less well known, but crucially important, is that the decree allowed Hitler's Reich government to take over the government of any of Germany’s federal states that wasn’t ‘maintaining order.’ Some of the state governments were in the hands of determined opponents of the Nazis, so this power was critical,” Hett says. To this day, the identity of the arsonists remains in dispute.

7. Cleveland's Cuyahoga River Fire

John D. Rockefeller’s first oil refinery was built along a stream that fed into the Cuyahoga river. While Rockefeller’s Standard Oil was dumping gasoline into the river, it was also being used as Cleveland’s sewer. The river burned nine times between 1868 and 1952.

The fire that broke out on June 22, 1969, was relatively small compared to the previous fires, but with one critical difference: “Many rivers were severely polluted during the 1960s, but the Cuyahoga River caught on fire just as the national media began to cover the environment as a serious issue and just as there was growing national public recognition of the urgent need to protect the environment,” says John H. Hartig, Ph.D., Great Lakes Science-Policy Advisor, International Association for Great Lakes Research.

“The Cuyahoga fire and other environmental disasters like the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill became national symbols of industrial indifference and the weakness of public regulation. The environmental movement needed a rallying point and the burning Cuyahoga River became its poster child,” said Hartig. Time magazine profiled the Cuyahoga River in the same issue as the moon landing and Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick scandal, delivering the story to eight million readers.

The public reaction to the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire helped lead to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and critical environmental legislation like the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act, the 1972 Clean Water Act, the 1972 U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and the 1973 Endangered Species Act.

PHOTOS: Our Changing View of Earth From Space

A Brief History of Samsung's Troubled Galaxy Note 7 Smartphone

S amsung Electronics announced Tuesday that it’s stopping production of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, less than 24 hours after halting global sales of the device.

“(We) have decided to halt production and sales of the Galaxy Note 7 in order to consider our consumers’ safety first and foremost,” the South Korean firm wrote in a filing to the Seoul stock exchange, Reuters reports. (The Note 7 is essentially the larger version of the Galaxy S7, which hasn’t been affected by the problems plaguing the Note 7.)

But why is Samsung ending production of its popular smartphone less than two months after it launched? Here’s a brief recap:

The Note 7 launches on Aug. 19

The latest of Samsung’s large-screened, stylus-toting Android smartphones launches on August 19. TIME describes it as “a modest but welcome improvement over its predecessor, offering a more ergonomic design, an enhanced stylus, the same camera as its Galaxy S7 cousin, and some software tweaks” and awards it 4.5 out of 5 stars. (We have since rescinded our recommendation in light of the recall.)

It costs around $30 per month, or more than $800 without a payment plan, depending on the wireless carrier.

Reports begin circulating about devices catching fire

Tales of Note 7 devices catching fire begin to spread. Samsung receives 92 reports of batteries overheating in Galaxy Note 7 phones in the U.S. it says there were 26 reports of burns and 55 reports of property damage. A man in Florida says his vehicle caught fire when the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone charging inside his SUV burst into flames.

The world&rsquos three largest carriers by passenger traffic, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, say that employees will tell passengers at the gate and on board aircraft to keep the Note 7 switched off until they deplane.

Phones recalled and replacements shipped

In early Sept., Samsung stops selling the Note 7. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns users to power down their devices and stop using them. It also issues a voluntary recall of devices sold before Sept. 15.

In total, Samsung recalls 2.5 million of the new Notes across 10 worldwide markets, including one million in the U.S. More than 500,000 replacement units of the device are shipped to carrier and retail stores in the U.S.

A software update is also launched for the Note 7 to help owners distinguish whether or not their smartphone is included in the recall. The software displays a green battery icon in the phone&rsquos status bar to indicate whether or not the phone has been affected.

The Journal reports that about 60% of the affected Notes in the U.S. and Korea have been replaced, with about 90% of customers choosing to replace the faulty phone with a new Galaxy Note 7 rather than get a refund or trade it in for a different type of phone.

Samsung’s market value drops

Samsung&rsquos market value begins to plummet as shares fall to their lowest level in nearly two months on Sept. 12. Investors wipe 15.9 trillion won ($14.3 billion) off the South Korean firm&rsquos market capitalization as a series of warnings from regulators and airlines around the world raised fears for the future of the device.

&ldquoSome said initially the Galaxy Note 7 could be the best smartphone ever, but now it&rsquos possible the phone will go down as the worst ever,&rdquo IBK Securities analyst Lee Seung-woo says, predicting weak sales in the fourth quarter.

Analysts say the recall could have a lasting impact on the $211 billion company&rsquos brand image, which could derail a recovery in its smartphone market share against rivals like Apple Inc. Some estimate the firm might lose $5 billion won worth of revenue after accounting for recall costs.

New reports suggest replacement phones are also catching fire

On Oct. 9, Samsung stops exchanging recalled Note 7 devices due to reports of replacement phones catching fire, just as the original phones did.

The week before, a Southwest Airlines flight is evacuated because of a phone that is smoking and making &ldquopopping&rdquo noises after it is turned off. Meanwhile, the Journal cites two users in California who each received a replacement Galaxy Note 7 only to discover that they became very hot.

In a statement, Samsung tells the Journal that &ldquotemperature fluctuations&rdquo could occur and weren&rsquot a safety risk, although it did say it was resolving individual cases with customers who had issues with their replacement devices.

Mobile providers T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon halt sales and exchanges, Business Insider reports. &ldquoWe&rsquore no longer exchanging new Note 7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents,&rdquo A&T says in a statement. Instead, customers are allowed to exchange the phones for a different model.

Samsung announces it has stopped production of the Galaxy Note 7

In a regulatory filing Tuesday, Samsung announces that it has made a final decision to stop production “in order to consider . . . consumers’ safety first and foremost”. It could be one of the costliest product safety failures in the history of technology.

Increasing heat and drought are likely to make things worse.

The average temperature in the state has risen slowly but steadily over the last century. Summers in California are getting hotter. On Sept. 6, Los Angeles County hit its highest recorded temperature when Woodland Hills reached 121 degrees.

Hot summer months dry out vegetation. Combined with lower precipitation levels, large swaths of California are primed for fire after years of drought. The largest fires are currently burning in areas experiencing moderate or severe drought.

The effect of this climate change is a longer fire season with conditions friendlier to fire.

“There's more opportunity for an ignition that&rsquos going to encounter a bad day,” said Brandon Collins, a scientist at the Center for Fire Research and Outreach at Berkeley Forests. He cites the Creek fire in Fresno County, which began on Sept. 4 and was fueled primarily by dead trees ravaged by drought and bark beetles.

6 Open Letters That Changed the World

Epistolary history is full of open letters, those that are written with the intent that they'll be read by a wide audience. Here we've collected six of the best (or at least, most influential) open letters of all time.

1. Letter from Birmingham Jail

Writer: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Recipients: "Fellow Clergymen"

Key statements: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" "Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."

Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed in Birmingham, Alabama after a nonviolent protest against segregation in 1963. On April 16, 1963, King wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, which was subsequently printed in The Christian Century, The Atlantic Monthly, and eventually King's book Why We Can't Wait. Running to eleven pages, King's letter was a response to the Statement by Alabama Clergymen in which prominent Alabama clergy (including a bunch of Bishops and a Rabbi) called for demonstrations against segregation to stop, and for the issue to be resolved in the courts. King wrote:

. I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds. .

Read the rest of King's famous letter, and read more about it at Wikipedia.

2. A Soldier's Declaration

Writer: Siegfried Sassoon

Recipients: British military leadership

Key statement: "I believe that [World War I] is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it."

In 1917, Siegfried L. Sassoon was a British poet, serving as a soldier in the First World War. Sassoon served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers in France and Palestine, earning the Military Cross for his valor under fire. After being wounded twice, he was put on leave to convalesce. When called to return to the trenches, Sassoon refused. He wrote:

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of agression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolonging these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed. .

Sassoon's letter was distributed throughout the British establishment, was printed in the Bradford Pioneer on July 27, 1917, and reprinted in the London Times four days later. The letter caused a great stir, including a public reading in the British House of Commons. Sassoon was soon declared mentally ill (thus unfit to face court-martial), and was sent to a hospital to be treated for shell shock. Read the full text of Sassoon's letter (it's pretty short) at Wikisource.

3. J'accuse!

Recipients: Félix Faure (President of France)

Key statement: "How could one hope that a council of war would demolish what a council of war had done?"

The Dreyfus Affair was a political scandal in France in the late nineteenth century. To make a very long story short, Captain Alfred Dreyfus (a Jew) was convicted of treason and punished, based on questionable evidence. Later evidence showed that the man who actually committed the crime was Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, but Esterhazy was acquitted, and exculpatory evidence that would have cleared Dreyfus was ignored by the court. (Read much more about the affair at Wikipedia.)

Writer Émile Zola rallied public attention to Dreyfus's cause, in an open letter with the huge headline "J'accuse!" printed on January 13, 1898 on the front page of Parisian paper L'Aurore. Zola accused the French establishment of anti-Semitism in its treatment of Dreyfus. Since then, "J'accuse" (literally "I accuse") has become a popular term expressing outrage. Zola wrote:

. Here then, Mr. President, are the facts which explain how a miscarriage of justice could be made and the moral evidence, the financial circumstances of Dreyfus, the absence of reason, his continual cry of innocence, completes its demonstration as a victim of the extraordinary imaginations of commander Du Paty de Clam, of the clerical medium in which it was found, of the hunting for the "dirty Jews", which dishonours our time.

. I accuse the offices of the war to have carried out in the press, particularly in the Flash and the Echo of Paris, an abominable campaign, to mislay the opinion and to cover their fault.

I accuse finally the first council of war to have violated the right, by condemning an defendant on a part remained secret, and I show the second council of war to have covered this illegality, by order, by committing in his turn the legal crime to discharge a culprit knowingly. .

Read the rest at Wikisource, and more on the letter and the Dreyfus affair at Wikipedia.

4. Open Letter to the Kansas School Board

Writer: Bobby Henderson

Recipients: Kansas School Board

Key statements: "I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster" "You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s."

In 2005, the Kansas School Board held a series of evolution hearings about whether the theory of Intelligent Design should be taught alongside evolution in classrooms. The hearings sparked a massive public debate, and for a time the Board did approve new science standards that included the teaching of Intelligent Design in the classroom. Without getting into the political or theological content of that argument, "concerned citizen" Bobby Henderson entered the fray with a public letter speaking of his own faith, The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Henderson wrote:

. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don't understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

Read the rest of the letter, and also read a bit more about FSM.

5. Letter on Corpulence

Writer: William Banting

Recipients: "The Public," specifically: fat people

Key statement: "Although no very great size or weight, still I could not stoop to tie my shoe, so to speak, nor attend to the little offices humanity requires, without considerable pain and difficulty, which only the corpulent can understand."

In 1863, William Banting, an overweight English undertaker, committed himself to a low-carbohydrate diet. He lost 35 pounds over the course of 38 weeks. He wrote about his diet in an open letter called Letter on Corpulence, proposing a diet of four meals a day, including proteins, greens, fruit, and dry wine, and eschewing foods high in carbohydrates and fat. His diet was so popular that to bant became a verb meaning to diet, and his diet is seen as a precursor to modern diets like the Atkins Diet. Banting wrote:

. I do not recommend every corpulent man to rush headlong into such a change of diet, (certainly not), but to act advisedly and after full consultation with a physician.

My former dietary table was bread and milk for breakfast, or a pint of tea with plenty of milk and sugar, and buttered toast meat, beer, much bread (of which I was always very fond) and pastry for dinner, the meal of tea similar to that of breakfast, and generally a fruit tart or bread and milk for supper. I had little comfort and far less sound sleep.

It certainly appears to me that my present dietary table is far superior to the former -- more luxurious and liberal, independent of its blessed effect -- but when it is proved to be more healthful, comparisons are simply ridiculous, and I can hardly imagine any man, even in sound health, would choose the former, even if it were not an enemy but, when it is shown to be, as in my case, inimical both to health and comfort, I can hardly conceive there is any man who would not willingly avoid it. .

Read the rest (including a PDF scan of the original pamphlet) at, or read a bit more about William Banting at Wikipedia.

6. Open Letter to Hobbyists

Recipients: computer hobbyists (specifically, those in the Homebrew Computer Club)

Key statement: "The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software."

In 1976, Bill Gates was concerned because his "Micro-Soft" software was being copied for free and even being resold without royalties. Gates and his compatriots had written a version of the BASIC programming language which was popular with computer hobbyists (notably those running the MITS Altair computer). But there was no effective way to copy-protect software in those days, and hobbyists were copying Micro-Soft's BASIC left and right. Gates decided to strike back with all the force he could muster: he wrote them a letter. Gates wrote:

The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these "users" never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?

. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft. .

Read the rest (it's short), or read more about the letter at Wikipedia. So what effect did the letter have? It's hard to say whether the letter itself was responsible, but Gates is currently the third-richest man in the world. I guess people started paying for software.

If you liked this article, check out The Open Letter-Off of '07, about the spate of open letters written in response to a letter by Steve Jobs to the music industry.

A Brief History of Cooking With Fire

For most of human history, over an open fire was the one and only way to cook a meal. People started cooking in this fashion nearly two million years ago, according to anthropologist Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Humanprobably, early on, by simply tossing a raw hunk of something into the flames and watching it sizzle.

This may make modern chefs wince, but, Wrangham argues, it was likely a giant evolutionary step for mankind, providing us not only with tastier dinners, but with the extra nutrition and surplus energy necessary for generating big brains (see What Makes Us Human? Cooking, Study Says).

By the Paleolithic era, 200,000 to 40,000 years ago, we were building primitive hearths in the form of a handful of stones in a circle—the sort kids today are taught to build in summer campand for the next many millennia such hearths, in various permutations, were the focal points of human homes. Our word focus—meaning the point at which all things come together—comes from the Latin for fireplace.

Until about 150 years ago, when the gas range came into common use, every household had a fireplace and every householder was obsessed with maintaining the kitchen fire. In the days before matches, if you didn’t keep the home fire continually burning, chances were you couldn’t start it up again. The medieval curfew—from couvre feu or fire cover—was a large metal lid used to cover the embers of the fire at night and keep them burning until morning. Nineteenth-century pioneers who woke up to find the ashes cold walked miles to borrow fire from their neighbors.

Starting a fire has never been an easy trick. No one knows how our prehistoric ancestors managed. They may have snatched burning branches from wildfires or generated sparks by rock-banging some guess we may have acquired fire as a lucky off-shoot of chipping stone tools.

Otzi, the 5000-year-old Iceman discovered in 1991 by hikers in the Italian Alps, cautiously carried his fire along with him, in the form of embers wrapped in maple leaves and stored in a birchbark box. As back-up, he was also equipped with a fire-starting kit, consisting of iron pyrites, flint, and tinder fungus. The Neolithic technique seems to have involved grinding the fungus until it was fine and fluffy, then piling it in a mollusk shell, and striking sparks with the flint and pyrite until the tinder ignited. Tom Hanks would have given a lot for this while he was struggling to rub two sticks together in Cast Away.

Though an estimated three billion people worldwide still cook their meals over open fires, the closest most Americans get to the hands-on experience of fire-starting is the backyard barbecue grill. About 60 percent of barbecue grills sold these days are fueled with gas and so require no fire-starting skills at all. The rest are charcoal grills, usually fueled with charcoal briquettes, and traditionally ignited with a spritz of lighter fluid and a match. After the initial whoosh, the hopeful barbecuer waits until the coal-black briquettes turn ashy-gray, signaling the establishment of a heat-radiating bed of coals suitable for cooking hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, pork ribs, and corn on the cob.

The inspiration for the charcoal briquette came from an early twentieth-century camping trip sponsored by industrialist Henry Ford. Each year from 1915 to 1924, Ford, with pals Thomas Edison, tire magnate Harvey Firestone, and naturalist John Burroughs, took to the road in a convoy of six vehicles, taking with them chauffeurs, a chef, a refrigerated kitchen truck, a folding camp table for 20, equipped with a lazy Susan, dining and sleeping tents, and a gasoline stove. The group called themselves the Vagabonds.

In 1919, Ford—who was in the market for timberland to provide hardwood for his Model Ts—invited Michigan real estate agent Edward Kingsford to tag along. Within months of the trip, Kingsford had helped Ford to acquire 313,000 acres of Michigan timberland and to erect a sawmill and a parts plant. Both, however, generated a lot of waste, in the form of stumps, branches, twigs, and sawdust, which the thrifty Ford loathed simply leaving about, profitless, on the ground. To solve the problem, he adopted a process invented by Oregon chemist Orin Stafford, who had devised a means of making biscuit-sized lumps of fuel from sawdust, wood scraps, tar, and cornstarch. The lumps were elegantly dubbed charcoal briquettes.

Edison designed a briquette factory, conveniently located next to the sawmill and Kingsford ran it, busily turning out 610 pounds of briquettes for every ton of sawdust and scraps. The briquettes weren’t popular: At first, they sold primarily to smokehouses. Then, in the 1930s, Ford began popularizing them, marketing “Picnic Kits,” each containing a handy box of briquettes and a portable grill, suitable for cooking lunch or dinner (“sizzling broiled meats, steaming coffee, toasted sandwiches”) while on motoring trips in a Ford Model T.

Despite Ford’s best efforts, the outdoor barbecue didn’t really take off until the 1950s, with the invention of lawns, suburbia, and the Weber grill. The Weber was the brainstorm of George Stephen, a welder, who spent his days at the Weber Brother Metal Works near Chicago, assembling sheetmetal spheres into buoys for the U.S. Coast Guard. At some point, he got the idea of slicing a sphere in half and giving it legs, creating a kettle-shaped grill that both kept the ash out of cooking food and allowed for far better heat control than the current store-bought grill models. It was such a hit that Kingsford immediately boosted briquette production by 35 percent.

For wannabe backyard fire-starters these days, most cooks recommend ditching the lighter fluid—it can give food an off-putting chemical taste—and using instead a chimney starter, an inexpensive metal cylinder that you stuff with newspaper (or potato chips), top with briquettes, and then set alight. Some suggest using hardwood charcoal in place of briquettes, since hardwood charcoal is made of nothing but hardwood (no chemical fillers), burns hotter, and gives food a finer smoky flavor.

Not recommended: the briquette-igniting technique ultimately lit upon by engineer George Goble and colleagues at Indiana’s Purdue University in the 1990s. The engineers enlivened annual faculty picnics by coming up with increasingly faster solutions for lighting the charcoal for the picnic hamburgers. They ultimately ended up with a bucket of liquid oxygen – the stuff of rocket fuel – which, when dumped upon 60 pounds of charcoal and ignited with a single smoldering cigarette, erupted into a gigantic fireball, reaching a temperature of 10,000 degrees F. It ignited the charcoal in three seconds flat. It also vaporized the barbecue grill.

Task 5: Restoring Configuration from a Backup File

It is not useful to have a history feature without offering a method for restoring a previously working configuration. The purpose of this task is to walk you through a manual process for restoring from a copy of your configuration created earlier.

Step 1: List the available backups

  1. Click Start, Run, and type CMD and Click OK.
  2. Change to the inetsrv directory using the following command: cd %windir%system32inetsrv .
  3. To get the currently configured path for the configHistory section, type the following:

This command will list the available backups, including manual backups made with the appcmd add backup command, as well as backups made by the configuration history service. You can use the appcmd restore backup command to restore any one of these, as shown in the next step

Step 2: Restore the backup

Having followed the instructions in the step above to list the backups, select the backup you'd like to restore and restore it by typing the following:

appcmd restore backup BACKUPNAME

Where BACKUPNAME is one of the backups listed in step 1, for example, CFGHISTORY_0000000016.

You can also manually search the configuration files in the backup folder to determine which backup you'd like to restore:

Click Start, Run, and type CMD and Click OK.

  1. Change to the history directory using information in Step 1, above.
  2. Use Windows findstr command to locate the change you are looking for. In this case, locate the configuration with directoryBrowse set to false.

This searches the current directory and all sub-directories for the string directoryBrowse is equal to false. This returns only one item, for example CFGHISTORY_0000000016, that indicates what we will restore.


In this task, we located a history copy and restored it. This task is the most important illustration of the configuration history feature, as it offers the ability to roll-back to a previously working configuration with ease.


In the fall of 1851, the Denny Party arrived at Alki Point in what is now the state of Washington. After spending a miserable winter on the western shores of Elliott Bay, the party relocated to the eastern shores and established the settlement that would become Seattle. [1] Early Seattle was dominated by the logging industry. The combination of a safe bay and an abundance of coniferous trees made Seattle the perfect location for shipping lumber to California. In 1852, Henry Yesler began construction of the first steam-powered mill in the Pacific Northwest. [2] Because of the easy access to lumber, nearly every building was constructed of the affordable, but combustible timber. Additionally, because the area was at or below sea level, the fledgling town was a frequent victim of massive floods, requiring buildings to be built on wooden stilts. The town also used hollowed out scrap logs propped up on wooden braces as sewer and water pipes, increasing the combustible loading.

At approximately 2:30 pm on June 6, 1889, an accidentally overturned glue pot in a carpentry shop started the most destructive fire in the history of Seattle. [3] The next day, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, operating out of temporary facilities in the wake of the fire, reported incorrectly that the incident began in "Jim McGough's paint shop, under Smith's boot and shoe store, at the corner of Front and Madison streets, in what was known as the Denny block" [4] a correction two weeks later said that it "actually started in the Clairmont and Company cabinet shop, below McGough's shop in the basement of the Pontius building", but the original error was often repeated, including in Murray Morgan's bestselling Seattle history book Skid Road (1951). [4] The pot was tipped over by John Back, a 24-year-old Swede. [3] The fire soon spread to the wood chips and turpentine covering the floor. Back attempted to douse the fire with water which only served to spread the fire further. [5] The fire department arrived by 2:45, but by that time the area was so smokey that the source of the fire could not be determined. [6]

Spread of fire Edit

Fed by the shop's timber and an unusually dry summer, the blaze erupted and shortly devoured the entire block. A nearby liquor store exploded, and the alcohol fueled the flames. The fire quickly spread north to the Kenyon block and the nearby Madison and Griffith blocks. Wooden boardwalks carried the flames across streets to ignite other blocks. [7]

A combination of ill-preparedness and unfortunate circumstances contributed to the great fire. Seattle's water supply was insufficient in fighting the giant inferno. Fire hydrants were sparsely located on every other street, usually connected to small pipes. [8] There were so many hydrants in use during the fire that the water pressure was too weak to fight such a massive blaze. Seattle was also operated by a volunteer fire department, which was competent, but inadequate in extinguishing the fire.

Magnitude of destruction Edit

By the morning of June 7, the fire had burned 25 city blocks, including the entire business district, four of the city's wharves, and its railroad terminals. [9] The fire would be called the most destructive fire in the history of Seattle. [3] Despite the massive destruction of property, only one person was killed in the blaze, a young boy named James Goin. However, there were fatalities during the cleanup process and over 1 million rodents were killed. [7] Total losses were estimated at nearly $20,000,000 ($576 million in today's dollars). [10]

Despite the magnitude of destruction, the rebuilding effort began quickly. Rather than starting over somewhere else, Seattle's citizens decided to rebuild. Seattle rebuilt from the ashes quickly, and the fire killed many rats and other vermin, thereby eliminating the city's rodent problems. A new building ordinance resulted in a downtown of brick and stone buildings, rather than wood.

In the year following the fire Seattle's population actually grew by nearly 20,000 to 40,000 inhabitants from the influx of people helping to recreate the city. [11] Supplies and funds came from all over the West Coast to support the relief effort. The population increase made Seattle the largest city in Washington, making it a leading contender in becoming the terminus of the Great Northern Railway. [12]

Post-fire reform Edit

Seattle made many improvements in response to the fire. The Seattle Fire Department was officially established four months later to replace a volunteer organization with a paid force containing new firehouses and a new chief. The city took control of the water supply, increasing the number of hydrants and adding larger pipes. [8] The advent of brick buildings to downtown Seattle was one of the many architectural improvements the city made in the wake of the fire. New city ordinances set standards for the thickness of walls and required "division walls" between buildings. [13] These changes became principal features of post-fire construction and are still visible in Seattle's Pioneer Square district today, the present-day location of the fire. At Pioneer Square, guided tours are also available to paying customers. Also at this location, visitors can tour the Seattle Underground, where they can visit the original street level (now basement level) of buildings and storefronts that were built after the fire. [14]

Saucers Espied

On June 24, 1947, the modern phenomenon of UFOs was born near Mt. Rainier when pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted nine shiny objects skimming the crests of the Cascades "like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water." News of Arnold's encounter made national headlines, and soon everybody was seeing flying saucers.

Two weeks later, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published the first purported photo of a mystery disk, which was snapped as the object flew over Lake City. Then, on July 9, the U.S. Army issued, then promptly retracted, a news release that it had recovered the wreckage of a crashed saucer near Roswell, New Mexico.

Amid mounting hysteria, two Tacoma log salvagers approached Amazing Stories magazine with their account of a "giant flying donut" that had supposedly exploded over Maury Island on June 21, 1947. They said they had slag-like fragments to prove it, but a mysterious "man in a black suit" had spoiled their photographs. The army dispatched two investigators, who died in a plane crash while returning to their base, thus planting the seed for all the conspiracy theories to come.

Celebrate Pride

During the last week of June 1974, local lesbians and gays celebrated Seattle's first Gay Pride Week, which included the opening of the Gay Community Center, a panic in Occidental Park, and a "Gay-In" at Seattle Center. The celebration has grown over the years -- it was sanctioned by the city in 1977 -- and this year it features a wide variety of online music, lectures, film, and more.

Members of sexual minorities have played leading roles in Seattle's history virtually since the town's founding. Early pioneers either expressed little concern for -- or turned a blind eye towards -- same-sex relationships, but after the Washington Sodomy Law was enacted in 1893, the gay community went underground. Nevertheless, by the 1930s establishments like the Casino Pool Room catered to gay men, and after World War II the Garden of Allah became a popular gay cabaret. And in 1950, local lesbians began meeting discreetly at The Hub.

At times harassed by the police, gay, lesbian, and trans people did not emerge from the closet in large numbers until after New York City's famous Stonewall riots in 1969. That same year, Dorian House opened in Seattle to provide gay counseling, and soon Gay Liberation activists increased their advocacy for more tolerance and less discrimination against the LGBT community. In 1977 Catholic Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen publicly defended the rights of gays and lesbians, and in 1987 Cal Anderson became Washington's first openly gay legislator.

Seattle expanded its anti-discrimination law in the 1970s to include sexual orientation, but this became the target of a repeal campaign in 1978 -- which voters decisively rejected. Civil rights were extended to gays and lesbians statewide in 2006, and broadened in 2009. And in 2012 -- the same year that Macklemore and Ryan Davis's song "Same Love" climbed up the charts -- Washington, by a vote of the people, became one of the first three states to authorize same-sex marriage.

News Then, History Now


On June 25, 1901, former Seattle police chief William Meredith -- who had just lost his job because of accusations of corruption made by theater owner John Considine -- attempted to kill Considine in Pioneer Square, but was himself gunned down inside the city's G. O. Guy drugstore. Although the press portrayed Considine as the assailant, he was found not guilty of murder and went on to become a noted and respected member of Seattle society.


On June 26, 1915, the East Seattle School celebrated completion of its first year as the primary center for education on Mercer Island. The school was built on land donated by C. C. Calkins, who had earlier tried to promote the island community of "East Seattle." The school building stood for more than a century before being torn down last year to make way for residential development.


After World War I, the UW rowing crews began using a converted seaplane hangar as their shell house, which also housed Dick and George Pocock's workshop. Dick Pocock left in 1922 to build shells on the East Coast, but George remained at UW after quitting his job at Boeing, and he devoted the rest of his life to boatbuilding. On June 28, 1923, a Pocock shell carried UW's varsity rowers to their first national championship when they defeated Navy in the 1923 Poughkeepsie Regatta


On June 26, 1925, a discarded cigarette tossed by a careless smoker caused a huge fire that wiped out most of the mill town of Monohon, the namesake of one of its first settlers. And on June 27, 1934, explosions demolished the J. A. Denn Powder Company plant near Lacey, but the buildings were so obliterated no cause was determined.


On June 27, 1926, Norge visit Seattle after their historic North Pole flight on June 27, 1926.'>Roald Amundsen and the crew of the Airship Norge visited Seattle after their historic North Pole flight. This was Amundsen's second visit to Washington in four months. In February, he lectured in Seattle and Everett before traveling to Norway to prepare for the flight.


Snohomish incorporated on June 26, 1890 and Mount Vernon incorporated in Skagit County one day later. Sultan incorporated in Snohomish County on June 28, 1905, and Deer Park became a city in Spokane County on June 24, 1908. And over on the coast, Westport incorporated on June 26, 1914.

U.S. Forest Service Fire Suppression

Fire fighters going to the front, Lassen National Forest, 1927.

Legendary forest fires in the late 1800s like the Peshtigo Fire of 1871 bolstered the argument by early conservationists like Franklin Hough and Bernhard Fernow that forest fires threatened future commercial timber supplies. Concern for protecting those supplies and also watersheds helped conservationists convince the U.S. government in 1891 to begin setting aside national forest reservations. When the U.S. Forest Service was established in 1905, it was given managerial control of these lands, soon renamed national forests. Forest management necessitated fire protection. After all, foresters argued, why create national forests if they were going to burn down.

Just five years later, in what has become known as the "Big Blowup," a series of forest fires burned 3 million acres in Montana, Idaho, and Washington in only two days. The 1910 fires had a profound effect on national fire policy. Local and national Forest Service administrators emerged from the incident convinced that the devastation could have been prevented if only they had had enough men and equipment on hand. They also convinced themselves, and members of Congress and the public, that only total fire suppression could prevent such an event from occurring again, and that the Forest Service was the only outfit capable of carrying out that mission. Three of the men who had fought the 1910 fires—William Greeley, Robert Stuart, and Ferdinand Silcox—served from 1920 to 1938 as Forest Service chief, which put them in a position to institute a policy of total fire suppression.

Civilian Conservation Corps fire fighting crew, Clark National Forest, 1937.

This policy had two goals: preventing fires, and suppressing a fire as quickly as possible once one started. To prevent fires, the Forest Service came out in opposition to the practice of light burning, even though many ranchers, farmers, and timbermen favored because it improved land conditions. It must be remembered that at this time foresters had limited understanding of the ecological role of fire. Forest Service leaders simply argued that any and all fire in the woods was bad because it destroyed standing timber. Educating the public about the need for fire prevention became an important part of this goal. In 1944, the Forest Service introduced the character Smokey Bear to help deliver its fire prevention message.

The other goal the Forest Service had was to develop a systematic approach to fire protection. In the decades following the Big Blowup, this would involve building networks of roads, communications systems, lookout towers, and ranger stations. To protect both federal and non-federal lands, the agency won passage of the Weeks Act of 1911, which in part established a framework between the federal government and the states for cooperative firefighting (the framework would later include private forest associations and landowners). By offering financial incentives to states to fight fires, the Forest Service came to dominate and direct what amounted to a national fire policy.

Fire fighters building a fire line, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, 1934.

Following several severe fire seasons in the early 1930s, fire suppression took on even greater urgency. In 1933, the federal government created the Civilian Conservation Corps, which put thousands of men to work building fire breaks and fighting fires. In 1935, the Forest Service established the so-called 10 a.m. policy, which decreed that every fire should be suppressed by 10 a.m. the day following its initial report. Other federal land management agencies quickly followed suit and joined the campaign to eliminate fire from the landscape. Fire suppression efforts were aided by the development of new technologies, such as airplanes, smokejumpers, medicines, and fire suppression chemicals. With such tools, fires could be fought anywhere—and were.

Until around 1970, federal land managers remained obsessed with controlling large fires. But during the 1960s, scientific research increasingly demonstrated the positive role fire played in forest ecology. This led in the early 1970s to a radical change in Forest Service policy—to let fires burn when and where appropriate. It began with allowing natural-caused fires to burn in designated wilderness areas. From this the "let-burn" policy evolved, though it suffered a setback in the wake of the 1988 Yellowstone fires. Since around 1990, fire suppression efforts and policy have had to take into account exurban sprawl in what is called the wildland-urban interface. Another issue the Forest Service now faces is that fires have grown in size and ferocity over the last 25 years. The fire-fighting budget has grown to about 50 percent of the agency’s entire budget, which limits funds available for land management activities such as land restoration and forest thinning that could aid in fire suppression.

Arizona reels as three of the biggest wildfires in its history ravage state

‘At night you can see basically the outline of the fire on the mountain’: the Bighorn Fire burning in the Santa Catalina Mountains looms over homes in Oro Valley, Arizona, last month. Photograph: Kelly Presnell/AP

‘At night you can see basically the outline of the fire on the mountain’: the Bighorn Fire burning in the Santa Catalina Mountains looms over homes in Oro Valley, Arizona, last month. Photograph: Kelly Presnell/AP

Extreme weather has contributed to the vast blazes – with the pandemic complicating the emergency response

Last modified on Mon 6 Jul 2020 20.13 BST

For residents of Tucson in southern Arizona, the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Coronado national forest are known as a hub for hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor recreation.

But on 5 June lightning ignited a wildfire that has grown to engulf over 118,000 acres. The fires are still only 58% contained. Called the Bighorn fire, it is the eighth-biggest in state history, and it has transformed the Catalinas into a hub for the study of the impacts of climate change. Nasa satellite photos show large scar marks left by the fire.

“At night you can see basically the outline of the fire on the mountain,” said Courtney Slanaker, the executive director for the American Red Cross Southern Arizona, “and then during the daytime you’re seeing that heavy smoke as it moves through different fuel sources on the mountain.”

And yet, Bighorn is just one of three fires that sit in the top 10 biggest wildfires in Arizona history.

The Bush fire in the Tonto national forest, about 30 miles from Phoenix, now covers 193,000 acres and 98% is contained. It is the fifth-biggest in state history. Meanwhile, the Mangum fire burning in the Kaibab national forest now covers over 71,000 acres and 67% contained. The trio of fires are bigger than Washington DC, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis and Manhattan combined. Despite the fires’ enormous size, only one home has suffered serious structural damage.

For the Bighorn fire, Mike DeVries, the incident command team public information officer, said it was too early to relax.

“Sometimes you’re just one change in conditions away from having another round of fires,” he said. “All may look well with a fire and then another day arrives and it changes.”

Firefighters look on as the Big Horn fire burns the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. Photograph: Christopher Brown/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Amber Soja, a scientist at Nasa who studies the links between climate change and wildfires, recently referred to the Bush fire as an “extreme fire” due to the elevation at which the fire burned and the weather which fueled it.

In June, Arizona saw regular daily temperatures of 105-110F. And little rain has fallen so far this summer, despite 15 June marking the start of the state’s official monsoon season.

“This is extreme heat and drought,” Soja said in a video published by Nasa.

Beyond the three major fires, eight others in Arizona are either still burning or were recently contained. One of them, the Blue River fire, is over 30,000 acres and 85% contained, burning on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Another, the Wood Springs 2 fire, now covers nearly 9,000 acres of the Navajo Nation and is only 5% contained. Both of those fires, like the Bighorn fire, ignited via lightning strikes according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.

The wildfires come as tribal nations and Arizona face an uptick in Covid-19 cases. The Navajo Nation has the highest per-capita infection rate in the US, while Arizona currently faces an infection rate of over 28% of those tested.

Recent scientific studies examining England and Italy have linked Covid-19 morbidity to poor air quality of the likes yielded by wildfire smoke. Satellite video published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) shows that at the peak of the Bighorn fire, smoke was visible from 23,000 miles away. And data from a shared Nasa/Noaa satellite pointed to smoke seen from the Bush fire stretching 63 miles from its center.

The Navajo Nation issued a smoke advisory warning on 1 July, urging all residents to “take precautions to protect their health from the wildfire smoke” coming from the Wood Springs 2 Fire.

The tribe stated exposure to wildfire smoke could lead to an “increase[d] risk of Covid-19 and other respiratory infections” or worsen symptoms in infected patients.

A wildfire air attack crew battles the Bighorn fire along the western side of the Santa Catalina Mountains on 12 June. Photograph: Matt York/AP

This reality has forced emergency responders to adjust accordingly. DeVries, of Bighorn fire incident command team, said firefighters follow US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol for wildfire relief workers.

Slanaker, of the American Red Cross, said the agency had adopted social distancing protocols as part of its relief plan, partnering with the tourism booster group Visit Tucson to secure discounts on hotel rooms for those in need if forced to evacuate.

“This is an unprecedented season for us. And while we’re still responding to different fires, they’re not going to take a break for Covid,” said Slanaker. “So, we’ve had to deal with those complexities, and make adjustments.”

Those adjustments include reduced staff, mandatory masks and social distancing protocols in evacuation intake centers, as well as offering prescreening and testing for Covid-19 for clients and staff. The distancing takes a toll for those affected by the fires, Slanaker said.

“A lot of folks that volunteer with us are incredibly compassionate and empathetic people, and to not be able to go up [to survivors] and give a hug and say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna get you through this, we’re here to support you,’ is really challenging,” she said.

“You don’t have that personal touch any more and so you have to find other ways to provide comfort and care, while still implementing those social distancing measures.”