London is an old historical city, perhaps as old as Jesus (AS). Unlike many other old cities, it has been destroyed many times; such as World War II bombing, Bubonic Plague disease and the great London Fire. In fact last two happened in two consecutive years.
The Great Fire of London took place almost 350 years ago in 1666. It changed the city landscape completely. Before that the City, as London is known, was small area of around 10 Sq Miles. The fire mainly destroyed the poor congested quarters which had narrow streets filled with filth, and connected houses; the living conditions were real bad. Fire brought some good; the city was rebuilt with wider streets and better houses built with stone.
The Great Fire Begins While People were Asleep:
This fire began at night on the 2nd of September in a Bakery at Pudding Lane. It was owned by Thomas Farynor, the personal baker for King Charles II. His servant didn’t put off the fire in oven properly. As a result fire broke out in the house. The servant alerted everyone sleeping upstairs. This servant and the baker’s family escaped through a window in the roof.
The Great Fire Marched On…Destroying all in its Path
The Great Fire quickly spread as it fed on the timber and lot of wind on that dark morning, causing the sparks and hot ash to leap from roof to roof.
London; The City Made of Wood
Most of the houses and shops in the city were made of wood. They were also packed tightly against each other in narrow streets. This arrangement was economical, but it meant there was almost no way to keep a fire from spreading rapidly.
Fire Fighting Efforts Fail
London citizens tried to form fire fighting brigades but were able to do little with their buckets of water against such a fierce enemy. In less than 10 hours, this gigantic fire had moved onto the famous London Bridge and would have destroyed the other side if not for a gap in the crossing that had been created by a fire 33 years earlier.
The fire stopped after 5 days when there was nothing more to burn. Wind direction also helped.
Death Toll was Almost None but 80% Buildings Burnt Completely
Amazingly only very few people died. The population of London was around 400,000 at the time. There were a total of 16 (only .004%) deaths in 13,000 completely burnt houses. This amounted to almost 80% destruction of the city. The Queen’s House survived the Great Fire only because it was surrounded by the stone tower walls.
The Disaster Makes London a Better and Safer City
There were some benefits however, streets were widened, buildings were made to be stronger and more fireproof. When London was rebuilt, it was done with bricks, mortar, and stones instead of wood so that this kind of fire would not happen again.
Rats were killed; so was the Plague
The fire took place only a year after the worse Bubonic Plague (Taa’oon) spread that killed around 100,000 people. It is a disease spread by rats. And London had ample opportunities for rats to flourish. People used to through rubbish and human waste in streets creating perfect breeding place for rats. 1665 saw the peak of this disease. Most rich people had left the city including the King. Since the fire took place in poor areas where most rats and affected people lived; the rats and their breeding places were destroyed; hence eliminating the disease.
Remembering the Fire:
The Monument to the Great Fire of London was erected and remains in place today so that no one will ever forget what happened. This London landmark is said to be placed so precisely that if it should ever be tipped over it will point to the exact spot where this great blaze began.
We must remember that Fires are dangerous, and even a tiny one can create a disaster in just a few minutes. This is a good time to remind you to make sure that you and your families know what to do in case of a fire.
– Always have a fire escape route planned
– Children and fire are not good friends; keep them apart.
– Have a way to account for everyone.
– Make sure that everyone in your family knows how to get out of the house.
– Leave the burning place immediately, nothing is more important than the safety of you and your family.