Summary

Wade into the endless smoke of Chicago’s Union Stock Yards, the site of nearly three hundred extra-alarm fires before its closure in 1971, including some of the most disastrous conflagrations of a city famous for fire. In 1910, twenty-one firemen and three civilians were killed in a blaze at a beef warehouse—the largest death toll for an organized fire department in the nation  prior to 9/11. The meatpackers who ran the yards considered the constant threat of fire as part of the cost of doing business, shrugging it off with an, “It’s all right, we’re fully covered.” For the firefighters who were forced to plunge into the flames again and again, it was an entirely different matter.