THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON OF 1666
The Great Fire of London of 1666 that was started by Thomas Farrinor’s bakery caused the destruction of 80 percent of London and led to the creation of insurance and firefighting companies. The fire marked a time of rebirth for the British capital since the city had to rebuild entirely. The fire was quite an interesting event owing the fact that it caused such an extreme amount of destruction and took the lives of only six people. Londoners remember the seventeenth century as a time of desolation, but the events that occurred have impacted the world today. With the creation of insurance and firefighting, not only are people protected, but their property also.
As a rule, builders in seventeenth-century London built houses from wood and pitch. Pitch is a sticky substance produced from tar and black in color. The strength of the pitch held the building materials together. Pitch also acted as a water proof coating for the wood, keeping moisture out, and preventing harm to the wood. Builders formed the roofs of houses from straw. It was not uncommon to see fires in London since not only were the houses highly flammable, but because open flame heated the homes. London used to be extremely crowded; with the houses being built close together, fire could easily spread from house to house and become a fire hard to contain (Alagna 12). Firefighting consisted of very simple techniques before the Great Fire. If there was a fire, designated workers pulled down houses with hooks to form a firebreak which would stop the fire from spreading any further. Other than the tools used to pull down the houses, there were not really any other firefighting devices (Alagna 13-14).
Furthermore, on the night of September 2, 1666, Thomas Farrinor, baker for King Charles II, was in bed asleep in his house on Pudding Lane. For an unknown reason, Farrinor awoke, lit a candle, and checked to make sure his ovens were completely extinguished. Farrinor did not see any light or sign of burning coals. Later that night, the smoke caused Farrinor and his family to awake because they felt like they were choking. Farrinor immediately ran upstairs and when he reached the top, he saw flames, but the flames were not near his ovens, or even close to a pile of wood near the ovens (Shields 80-81). The family then searched for an escape route out of the house (Alagna 4). Unable to exit downstairs due to a blocked path, the Farrinor family fled to the roof. The family begged their maid to follow them but she was more afraid of heights than the fire. She stayed in the house and was the first person to die in the Great Fire. The family, however, continued across rooftops until they were safe from the fire (Shields 81).
Subsequently, the flames were halfway across London Bridge soon after the fire was started. Two groups of buildings, separated by a clearance, sat on London Bridge (Alagna 19). Pieces of the burning buildings fell into the river causing the...