“How horribly the sky looks, all on a fire in the night, enough to put us out of our wits; and, indeed, it was extremely dreadful, for it looked just as if it was at us, and the whole heaven on fire.”

–Samuel Pepys

Image: smithsonianmag

The Great Fire of London burned the city for four days in September 1666. The fire destroyed more than four fifths of London and gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman city wall. It is estimated to have destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the city’s 80,000 inhabitants.

The fire broke out in the early morning hours of the 2nd of September near London bridge at a bakery. Fires, at that time, were a common occurrence and were quelled quite easily. Hence, the mayor did not pay much heed to it at first and it was thought of as a common fire. However, 300 houses quickly collapsed, and the strong east wind spread the flames further, jumping from house to house. Efforts to bring the fire under control by using buckets quickly failed. Panic began to spread through the city. As the fire raged on, people tried to leave the city and poured down to the River Thames in an attempt to escape by boat.

It was only by the 6th of September that the fire finally extinguished leaving only one fifth of the city standing.