The Museum of London’s exhibition of the Great Fire has just opened to good reviews, entrance is £8.
I read on the BBC website that as well as the closely packed buildings being made of wood, so were the water pipes! There was, of course, no fire brigade, but the churches were required to keep fire-fighting equipment – buckets and ladders.
I’m not long back from San Francisco, which in 1906 suffered a huge fire. The similarities are amazing.
We went on a tour inside the 1886 wooden Haas-Lilienthal House which survived the fire because the military blew up the next street – something Samuel Pepys organised in London in 1666.
In San Francisco the earthquake also ruptured the gas mains which caused the enormous fire. We went on a tour of the Mission District run by Maz of Wild SF Tours. We met at a gold painted fire hydrant. It was painted gold because in 1906 all the water mains fractured and this was the last one still working. My photo shows Maz starting the tour at the top of the hill in Dolores Park. In 1906 the city residents came up here to escape the fire and to watch their city burn.
It was Maz who explained to me that today the fire hydrants in San Francisco have different painted tops to show that the water comes from different sources. If there’s another earthquake hopefully some will still be working. I then walked around town and noticed them everywhere – often different coloured hydrants on opposite street corners.