Any Questions #365: "Famous Fires"

Aug 24, 2018

WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel switch spots for a show about famous fires.

Last week's challenge: Start with the phrase DOUBLE BOGEY. Rearrange the letters to spell a seven-letter word you might say when something ends and a four-letter word that might describe how you feel after you say it. What are the words?


On-air questions: Well, Mike: On August 24, 1814, British forces under Major General Robert Ross burned much of the young American government’s capital, torching the White House, the Capitol and other Washington D.C. buildings. First Lady Dolley Madison, probably apocryphally, rescued a large Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington while fleeing. Reconstruction took three years. In honor of this anniversary, today’s show will be about famous fires. I’ll name the year and some other details, and you name the city.

1. 1872: 776 buildings were lost including the “Financial District” before the fire was finally contained near the Old South Meetinghouse, which is credited to the efforts of crew from Portsmouth, NH — one of an estimated 1,700 firemen who responded.
2. 1871: It’s believed to have begun in a barn belonging to the O’Leary family, it killed 300 people, it eventually reached the North Side, and it led to the end of construction of wooden buildings — but some grandfathered buildings like the famous jazz spot the Green Door Tavern still exist today.
3. 64: The blaze began outside the Circus Maximus, its history was recorded by a man named Tacitus, and it destroyed the hearth of the Vestal Virgins in addition to two-thirds of the city.
4. 1906: It followed a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, claimed almost 25,000 buildings, and inspired a Collier’s magazine article called “The Story Of An Eyewitness” by Jack London.
5. 1666: It began on Pudding Lane, destroyed 80 percent of the city, and was immediately followed by a rebuilding effort that included a new St. Paul’s Cathedral designed by Christopher Wren.

This week's challenge
Start with the term FIRE STARTER. Drop an R and you can rearrange the remaining letters to spell two words (6, 4) often associated with bodies of water. What are the words?

1. Boston (the fire burned for 15 hours before officials decided to use gunpowder to blow up entire blocks of buildings to starve the fire of more fuel)
2. Chicago (in 1997, a city council committee cleared Catherine O’Leary and her cow)
3. Rome (this is where the idiom of fiddling while Rome burns comes from, as Emperor Nero was depicted)
4. San Francisco (Here is an excerpt from London’s report: They held on longest to their trunks, and over these trunks many a strong man broke his heart that night. The hills of San Francisco are steep, and up these hills, mile after mile, were the trunks dragged.
5. London (the fire was caused by a baker working for Charles the II; and the bakers of London apologized in 1986)