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Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Great Fire of London was the largest, and most destructive, fire to sweep the city. In the three days it burned, it is estimated that it consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St. Paul's Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. It is estimated that it destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City's estimated 80,000 inhabitants. It destroyed an area approximately the size of the entire city within the old Roman walls.

The fire started shortly after midnight in the home of a baker in Pudding Lane. He and his family managed to escape the house through an upstairs window. Neighbors tried to douse the fire, but couldn't. When the parish constables arrived, they determined that neighboring houses should be demolished to contain it, but the homeowners protested, so the Lord Mayor was sent for. The Mayor, Sir Thomas Bloodworth, refused to override the protests of the homeowners, insisting that it was a small fire that could be quickly doused. He was wrong.

Three days later, London was a smoking ruin. By the time the Crown stepped in and overruled the Lord Mayor's decisions, it was too little too late and the fire was completely out of control.

This Day in History: In what year did the Great Fire of London occur?

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