How the Great Fire of London Transformed the City
The Great Plague struck London in 1665 and resulted in the deaths of over one hundred thousand citizens. Due to the plague epidemic, many citizens temporary left the city to escape exposure. Unfortunately, less than a year later citizens found themselves fleeing the city again when The Great Fire of London began. The fire lasted a total of four days throughout the central parts of London, beginning on September 2nd and lasting until September 5th, in 1666. Although, the massive fire caused a great amount of destruction in London, it fortunately did not result in a great number of causalities. In addition, the fire helped force the city to re-build itself from all of the destruction and despair it had encountered over the past two years.
The fire started at a bakery owned by Thomas Farriner, King Charles II baker. The housemaid did not properly turn off an oven in the bakery; as a result, the heat spread throughout the wood home and eventually caught fire. Unfortunately, the fire quickly spread from building to building and home to home with devastating results. Because many of the homes and buildings were made out of wood and it occurred after a hot summer season, the wood shingles were dry and vulnerable. Many citizens decided to flee the city, but King Charles II chose to stay in order to operate the city.
There was fear that the fire would cross the North River and invade the South side of the city. Luckily, the weather significantly changed over the course of the ensuing four days and the winds reversed direction. Subsequently, the fire remained stagnant in the same already burned down area and eventually died out.
The fire burned approximately 13,200 homes, 87 churches, and numerous buildings of city authorities, as well as the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral. There were only six recorded casualties, but this record has been questioned over the years because the intense heat of the fire could have lead to a lack of remains.
Despite all of the negative consequences of the fire, many believe it helped the city of London recover from the harsh post-conditions of The Great Plague and become a stronger city. The fire helped the filthy streets of the Great Plague to become sterilized. In addition, as a result of London encountering a great amount of destruction, the city was able to completely to reconstruct itself, providing citizens with better living environments.