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The Great Fire of Bucharest in 1847 was a disaster that marked the city's history forever. The fire broke out on the 23rd of March and spread quickly, destroying numerous buildings and leaving tens of thousands of people homeless. It was one of the most significant fires that ever occurred in the city and had a lasting impact on the urban landscape.
It started in a house located on the street of Lipscani, which was known for its crowded and narrow alleys, making it challenging for firefighters to access the area quickly. As a result, the flames spread rapidly, engulfing nearby buildings and causing panic among the city's residents. Despite the efforts of firefighters, the fire raged on for three days, destroying a vast portion of the city center.
It was caused by the son of Zinca Drugănescu, a rich woman in the area. The eleven-year-old improvised a pistol from an old key and gunpowder. Some say he shot his “new toy” toward a pile of hay. Other sources say the improvised device exploded and set fire to the curtains. The flames quickly spread to the wooden ceiling and the roof. Unfortunately, the wind was strong that day and it made the fire spread to the nearby buildings. Even though the child saved himself, he died a few years later from tuberculosis, after not being prosecuted.
The blaze left the city in ruins, destroying over 2,000 buildings, including houses, churches, schools, hospitals, and other essential institutions. The damage was estimated to be around 60 million lei, a staggering amount at the time. The city was plunged into darkness and chaos, with thousands of people fleeing their homes and seeking refuge in nearby villages and towns.
The aftermath of the fire brought about significant changes to Bucharest's urban planning. The city's authorities were forced to re-evaluate the way buildings were constructed, leading to the introduction of new building codes and regulations. The narrow streets that made it difficult for firefighters to access affected areas were widened, and new fire hydrants were installed throughout the city.
It also had a significant impact on the country's economy. Bucharest was the capital of Wallachia at the time, and the destruction of the city center disrupted trade and commerce, leading to an economic downturn that lasted several years.