The Great Fire of London

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The Great Fire of London

The great fire of London began on 2 September, 1666 and lasted for about five days. This disaster destroyed one-third of London leaving more than one hundred thousand people homeless. The destruction caused, took nearly fifty years to rebuild, but there still exists evidence of the destruction which is found through archaeological discoveries with the museum of London, housing some of the objects related to the fire. The following paper evaluates why this disaster is viewed both as a curse and as a blessing.

Causes and Curse of the Fire

The great fire of London is believed to have started at pudding lane in Thomas Farriner's bakery caused by a spark when the oven fell on a pile of fuel. The dry nature of London facilitated the easy spread of the fire following a long hot summer. Londoners fought the fire by use of water squirts, buckets of water and fire hooks with the assistance of local soldiers for they lacked fire brigade in London at the time. The fire was considered a curse due to the following reasons: firstly, the fire resulted in the death of Londoners. Secondly, it left destruction with many Londoners becoming homeless and businesses facing bankruptcy, and finally, there was not enough manpower to fight the fire given seventy thousand Londoners had died previously from the plague.

Devastation and Homelessness

Even though the exact number of people who died is not known, it is believed that the fire killed six people. The number may have been higher and not reported due to the poor recording and documenting system that was in place at the time. The great fire of London left behind a lot of people homeless, some businesses bankrupt, about sixteen thousand houses, eighty-seven parish churches, and many other main buildings housing businesses destroyed. This was highly considered a curse because people did not have fire insurance at the time and had no way to reconstruct. The immediate effect was that thousands of residents had to move out of London to seek a livelihood elsewhere. The disaster happened at a time when tens of thousands of Londoners had died from the plague, which reduced the manpower available to assist in stopping the fire.

Blessings and Positive Outcomes

On the contrary, the great fire of London was considered a blessing due to the following reasons. A new regulation was put in place to ensure people used better building materials such as stone instead of wood and provided enough space between the streets that eradicated the risk of fire spreading. The reconstruction efforts allowed for redesigning of buildings which provided prime real estate to modernize London and allowed the city to develop fashionably into a "supreme city." Moreover, the disaster saw the birth of the insurance industry, with the fire court set to oversee the settlement of such disputes. Additionally, there was the development of a fire brigade which was to assist in putting off fire (Sayre, 2016).


Sayre, H. (2016). Discovering the humanities (3rd Ed.). Pearson.

November 13, 2023

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