The Great Fire of London
The September 1666 Great Fire of London, remains a historical event in the world today. The fire accident occurred at King Charles II’s house, on Pudding Lane, located near the London Bridge. The fire spread to the Thomas Street, gutting warehouses that had combustibles. It later became an inferno following strong easterly winds blowing at that time. The Great Fire was put out on September 6, with about four-fifth of London destroyed. Even though the fire took almost six days, only 16 people were confirmed dead by authorities.
According to investigations, which were later carried out, the Great Fire of London was disaster in waiting. By 1666, the City of London was mainly medieval houses, which were made of oak timber. For poor dwellers, they covered their structures with tar to prevent rain. However, these made the houses vulnerable to fire accidents. The city also had narrow streets, making it hard for fire fighters while making it easier for the fire to spread from house to house and street to street. Putting out the fire was difficult since the technology of the day was use of pails and neighborhood buckets. In some cases, the fire brigade team used hand-pumps. Even though citizens were told to check their houses for possible dangers, many were careless and did not heed to safety instructions.
What caused the fire? It was believed that the King’s baker, Thomas Farrinor, failed to extinguish the oven appropriately on September 1, 1666. Sparks from smouldering ambers caught fire and ignited firewood, which was next to the oven. The fire that broke out razed his houses down to ashes, even though Farrinor and his family survived the tragedy after escaping using the upstairs window. Unfortunately, one of the bakers died, making him the first causality of the fire.
The fire later extended to Star Inn after the fire from the bakery caught straw and fodder, spreading to Thomas Street. Here, the fire gutted down warehouse, containing a wide range of inflammables like spirits, coal, lamp oil and candles among others. This exploded into a flame that was incontrollable. As a result, locals stopped putting up the fire and rushed home to salvage their belongings as the fire threatened to consume the entire city of London.
The climate of the day further favored the easy spread of the blaze. A hot and dry summer, coupled with strong winds was enough to render the fire unmanageable by any firefighters of that time. As the flames extended to other parts of the city, authorities engaged all their efforts to tame it. In some case, they tore buildings to create firebreaks even though the raging fire overtook them before they could achieve anything. Thames River became a safe refuge as people rushed in, dragging their possessions too. Those who rendered homeless and had nothing to hold on went up the hills in the outskirts of the city. The fire was so powerful that light from the blaze could be seen 30 miles away. By September 5, the fire was coming under control and on the following day, it was put out completely.
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