History of the Great Fire of London.

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Where: Pudding Lane, London

When: The 2nd of September, 1666

How did it happen?

The Great Fire of London was a disastrous and traumatic event for all who lived there. It all begin in on the 2nd of September 1666, in a little bakery on Pudding Lane. The owner, one of the king’s bakers, Thomas Farriner stated in sources I found that he initially put the fire out after noticing a spark coming from his oven and hit his fuel supply. However, unfortunately he hadn’t extinguished the flames properly, he awoke early hours in the morning to see his house engulfed in flames.

Why did the fire spread so quickly?

The fired very quickly spread throughout the lane and expanded further due to all the buildings around being built from wood and timber and also happened to be covered in a flammable substance called pitch. Pitch is essentially a yellow sap that is created when trees produce too much resin causing it to push through the wood as highly flammable globs which are pitch balls. The buildings were also built tightly compacted to one and other making it easier for the fire to spread to each house. Another factor that didn’t help keep the flames contained is that a very hot and dry summer had just swept through the city putting it into threat of drought all their already dry timber houses. As well as this, on the day of the fire it was known to have had strong winds that kept powering the fire and manoeuvred it to go in every direction.

There wasn’t really much people could do because it was too early in history for fire extinguishers and there wasn’t even an efficient fire brigade on stand by. They used leather buckets, axes and water spouts to battle against the manic blaze and as you can imagine, it didn’t really do much.

The Damage.

Even with the catastrophic size of the fire, miraculously, only 6 deaths were officially accounted for. However, this number could be significantly larger as many of the middle to lower class might not have been counted as people didn’t want to dig and search through the remains of burnt houses to look for bones or charred bodies. Counteracting this, an extreme number of buildings and city monuments were destroyed from the blaze including: 13,200 homes, 87 churches, the Royal Exchange, Guildhall and St Paul’s Cathedral. The first known victim to the fire was an unnamed maid hired by Thomas Farriner. Hisself, daughter and manservant all managed to escape the violent blaze, but she wasn’t as lucky.

The burnt all through the 2nd of September up until the 6th when it spread towards the Tower of London in the East. Gunpowder was used to blow up the surrounding houses and effectively stopped the fire from spreading further around the Tower of London and Cripplegate.

Who took the blame?

After searching for the cause of this traumatic incident and coming up empty handed, a French watchmaker called Robert Hubert came and confessed to starting the fire. He was hanged on the 27th of October 1666 for the crime. However, many years later, it was revealed that he was away at sea when the fire began and could not have bee responsible and no one knows why he confessed to a crime he did not commit. Thomas Farriner was never caught for the accidental damage he caused on the city of London.

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