Great Fire of London marked with replica blaze

LONDON, Sept. 5 (UPI) — The Great Fire of London 350 years ago was marked with a giant wooden replica of 17th century London that was been set ablaze on the River Thames.

Crowds gathered on the banks of the river to watch the 394-foot-long model burn up Sunday night.

In 1666, the fire raged for four days, starting at a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane on Sept. 2. It destroyed around 436 acres, which was most of the city. More than 13,000 homes, businesses and structures, including the old St Paul’s, were ruined in the city of 80,000. Only six verified deaths were recorded because the poor and middle-class people living in the city were probably never recorded and other bodies were charred beyond recognition.

St Paul’s Cathedral was rebuilt and it was bathed in a fiery orange light to mark the event.

But this time, stone was used in the capital as a building material. Also, an organized fire service and insurance industry were established.

The replica’s burning climaxed a six-day event called London’s Burning that featured art installations, performances, talks and tours.

“I feel so relieved that it actually went off, because obviously when you do a live event you never know,” said Helen Marriage, director of Artichoke, which organized the event, told the BBC.

Artichoke, a creative company that puts on giant shows, worked with artist David Best on the replica.

Tim Marlow, the artistic director of the Royal Academy of Arts, was impressed, saying, “this is spectacle and then some.”

“I’ve seen a shed blown up in the name of art, I’ve seen fireworks, I’ve seen artists bury themselves, I’ve seen the trace of an artist shooting himself in the hand or nailing himself to a car, but actually I’ve never seen anyone collaborate with so many people in such an extraordinary and exciting way, to make a commemorative replica of a skyline 350 years ago and then set fire to it,” he told the BBC.

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