The Great Kanto Fire – Essay Example

The paper "The Great Kanto Fire" is a good example of an environmental studies essay. The Great Kanto fire was caused by a natural disaster – the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. It was considered the worst fire disaster ever. It burned for 43 hours and left 43% of the Tokyo City in ashes, killing 105,000 people. However, while the earthquake was the primary cause of the fire that razed much of the Tokyo City, the natural phenomenon was not entirely the culprit. The earthquake occurred on a Saturday, just minutes before noon when thousands of residents are using charcoal to cook lunch. The greatest damage was done by the fires started by overturned coals. When these were fanned by the wind, it is easy to imagine how the fire became a firestorm that moved a great rate of speed. As the basic necessities of life quickly ran short, the ensuing scene was a tableau of panic and anxiety from people. Because of this, the destruction of the fire was heavier than the earthquake itself. For example, the American ambassador to Japan wrote about the event in a report sent to his government: Shock after shock came, with fires breaking out in every direction, while the streets were filled with seething mass of humanity just escaped from death by the earthquake, once more fleeing for their lives as the flames drove them on. (Nimmo 2001, p. 113) As the case of the Great Kanto fire has demonstrated, the human reaction to disaster sometimes aggravates the situation due to fear. It has been an important lesson, particularly for Japan, which turned to the Great Kanto fire experience in building a fire-focused disaster mitigation system used in later earthquake disasters in the country.