The sentence looks like this:
I do not understand the meaning of 之 here and also do not know how to read 当 in this context (and what is the meaning of it here). Is it dang4 or dang1 in this case? What does it mean? Is it a separate word here or part of 当初, because I even not sure how to separate 当初战火 into separate words because I can't figure out the role of 当 here. I would be grateful if anyone could be able to explain this in the manner that I would be able to use similar sentence pattern in the future myself. As of now I'm out of ideas after a long time of research.