Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include Edward VII, who maintained a kit at a London fire station.

February 01, 2023

FROM THE EDITOR

Hello Dear Readers! We have given the blog a facelift all the way back to our original articles in 2005. Enjoy. Cheers, Vinny 

January 31, 2023

PADDINGTON RAIL DISASTER - 1999



Photo: BBC

Thirty-one people died when two commuter trains collided on Oct. 5, 1999 near London's Paddington rail station. 

Dozens were injured, some of the cars burst into flames - and the plume of smoke was visible across London. 
Investigators determined one of trains ran a stop signal. 

Passenger Mark Rogers said on the BBC: "There was an almighty crash and the train rolled over and over, first onto its roof and then onto its side.

The Paddington wreck occurred on the same stretch on rail line where seven people die in the 1997 Southall rail disaster.

CLAPHAM RAIL DISASTER - 1988


Photo: BBC

On Dec. 12, 1988, Clapham Junction was the scene of a railway accident involving two collisions between three commuter trains. Thirty-five people died and more than 100 were injured.

''It is sheer, bloody hell,'' said James McMillan, an assistant chief fire officer quoted by The New York Times. The second train ''seemed to dive under the rear of the first, come out on its right-hand side and then go into the empty train,'' he said.

Passenger Chris Reeves, who was seated in a buffet car on one of the trains, said "the roof split open like a ripe tomato, and that's how we got out.''

An inquiry determined "the primary cause was `wiring errors' made by a rail worker who had had one day off in 13 weeks, and that British Rail work practices were to blame," the BBC said. "It made 93 recommendations for safety improvements, including a limit on the hours signalmen were allowed to work."

TELSTAR HOUSE - 2003

Photo: firetactics.com
Twenty engines responded to a fire at Telstar House on July 29, 2003. Three firefighters were searching for a missing person, the BBC reported. Assistant Divisional Officer Brian Mitchinson said: `We can only commend their bravery.'" 

January 30, 2023

MARCHIONESS - 1989


Photos: Wikipedia

The London Fire Brigade responded to the deadly sinking of the party boat Marchioness on the Thames that killed 51 people on Aug. 20, 1989.

The vessel collided with the 260-foot gravel dredger Bowbelle after departing Charing Cross pier at 1:25 a.m. for a birthday party for banker Antonio de Vasconcellos, 26.

Marchioness passed its sister ship, Hurlingham, as the vessels approached Southwark Bridge, according to The Independent newspaper.

At 1:46 a.m., the Hurlingham witnessed the collision and issued a distress call: "Wapping Police, Wapping Police, emergency. Pleasure boat is sunk, Cannon Street Railway Bridge, all emergency aid please."

However, the Woolwich marine radio station, which received the distress call, misheard the location as Battersea Bridge -- in the opposite direction.

It wasn't until 20 minutes after the collision that the fire brigade received the correct location.

At 2:16 a.m., Station Officer Gleeson of the Southwark fire station radioed: "Machioness sunk, believed downstream of Blackfrairs Bridge with unknown number of people in river and Met Police searching river between Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges.''

The Independent said:

"No one was found alive after the first 30 minutes. Only one body was recovered that night by the fire brigade. No others were found until the following day when the wreck was raised east of Southwark Bridge: there were 24 bodies found in different sections of the boat. Over the next few days the remaining 26 bodies were gradually recovered along the river, the last being Mr de Vasconcellos himself.''

In August 1991, a report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said "the failure of lookouts on both ships was the immediate cause of the tragedy,'' the BBC said.

 In 1995, an inquest jury returned a verdict of "unlawful killing" but the Crown Prosecution Service concluded there was insufficient evidence.

IRA BOMBINGS IN LONDON



Scenes at 1974 bombings of Parliament and Tower of London and 1973 blast and Old Bailey

From 1969 into the 1990s, the Provisional IRA carried out a wave of deadly attacks across the U.K. aimed at ending British rule in Northern Island - including bombings of London landmarks.

On March 8, 1973, the IRA bombed the Old Bailey, the central criminal court. Twin car bombs claimed one life. Another 100 people were injured. The blasts also damaged government agricultural offices.

On June 17, 1974, a bomb exploded at the Houses of Parliament, fracturing a gas main. "A fierce fire spread quickly through the centuries-old hall in one of Britain's most closely-guarded buildings,'' the BBC said. About a dozen people were injured.

A month later -- July 17, 1974 -- a blast at the Tower of London killed one person and injured about 40 others. The bomb detonated in the Mortar Room in the White Tower, a small basement exhibition room packed with tourists "who took the force of the blast,'' the BBC said. ``Many people suffered badly damaged and lost limbs and severe facial injuries.''

One of the deadliest bombings occurred Dec. 17, 1983 at Harrods Department Store during the Christmas shopping season. The explosion killed six people -- including three police officers -- and wounded scores more. "Harrods re-opened three days later despite the damage,'' the BBC said.

On April 24, 1993, a truck bomb at Bishopsgate in the City of London caused £1 billion in property loss, including the destruction of St Ethelburga's church and serious damage to Liverpool Street Underground. There were a number of casualties.

CRIPPLEGATE - 1897

On Nov. 19, 1897, flames ripped across 100 buildings in Cripplegate, putting thousands of people out of work. The fire broke out in "an ostrich feather warehouse," according to the website of Gold Lane estate.

TIFFIN SCHOOL - 2003

Photo: BBC 
On Dec. 15, 2003, a 12-pump fire ripped through the Tiffin Girls School in Kingston in southwest London. There were no injuries. The fire burned for several hours.

HEATHROW - 1997

Photo: BBC 
On Dec. 12, 1997, a fire at a passenger terminal disrupted flights at Heathrow Airport - one of the busiest in the world. Sixty firefighters and 15 engines battled the blaze for five hours at Terminal One. The flames spread from a Burger King restaurant through the building's air ducts.

OXFORD STREET - 2007

"More than 150 firefighters battled through the night as a huge blaze engulfed one of Oxford Street's busiest stores. Hundreds of shoppers had to be evacuated and traffic was brought to a standstill for several hours as New Look's London flagship shop went up in flames.'' - The Evening Standard, April 24, 2007


WEST END - 2002

Photo: BBC
On Sept. 26, 2002, firefighters extinguished a fire that engulfed two buildings in London's West End - and threatened to spread to the 200-year-old Theatre Royal. ``More than 50 firefighters managed to control the fire which burned for over four hours, closing roads and filling the West End with smoke,'' the BBC said.

ANIMAL HOUSE

 

bird, a cat, a monkey, three dogs - and 11 London firefighters in late 1800s or early 1900s. Quite the managarie. 

PERILOUS DUTY

Firefighting during the London Blitz in 1940

January 29, 2023

RAGGETT'S HOTEL - 1845


 IllustrationThe Fireman's Own Book by George P. Little, 1860

On May 27, 1845, fire swept Raggett's - a popular hotel in Piccadilly.

"Several eminent persons perished,'' according to Haydn's Dictionary of Dates and Universal Information, including the wife of a Member of Parliament , the owner of the hotel and his daughter.

At the same time, firemen saved a number of guests with escape ladders - demonstrating the value of the wheeled apparatus.


Ten engines attended the blaze, which was visible in many parts of the city. Queen Victoria witnessed the progress of the flames from her palace and sent a messenger. The legendary chief officer, James Braidwood, was in command of the fire forces.

The water supply was considered adequate for the pumps, but the wood construction of the hotel fueled the blaze, the cause of which was deemed an accident.

A periodical - The Gentleman's Magazine, July 1845 edition - reported:

`"May 27 - A fire very suddenly occurred at Raggett's Hotel, in Dover-street, Piccadilly, at one o'clock in the morning, and, though few persons in the house had retired to rest, five of them lost their lives, namely, Mrs. John Round, wife of the member for Maldon; Mr. Raggett, the proprietor of the hotel; Miss Raggett, his daughter, (who, missing her footing on the escape, fell to the ground with great violence, and died soon after); Mrs. Jones, a servant of Lord Huntingdon's; and another female servant.

"The fire originated in the apartments of Miss King, who set fire to her bed curtains, and its rapid progress is attributed to the throwing open of all the doors. The hotel was formed from two old houses, and of slight and inflammable materials.''

The Victorian-era publication also printed an obituary of Mrs. Round, the wife of the member of the House of Commons:

"Perished in the awful conflagration at Raggett's Hotel, Dover-st. aged 56, Susan-Constantia, wife of John Round, esq. M.P. for Maldon. She was the eldest daughter of the late George Caswall, esq. of Sacombe Park, Herts, and co-heir to her brother the late George Newman Caswall, esq.; was married in 1815, and has left issue three sons and one surviving daughter. The latter narrowly escaped her mother's fate. They had just returned from the French play, and were still waiting for their supper when so suddenly alarmed.''

Ladder Rescues

At the time, fire suppression was provided by the London Fire Engine Establishment, organized in 1833 to consolidate brigades operated by London's insurance companies. James Braidwood, former firemaster of Edinburgh, commaded 13 fire stations and 80 full-time firefighters. His men were nicknamed ``Jimmy Braiders.''

Rescue services were provided by a separate agency - the Royal Society for the Protection of Life - which operated a network of wheeled escape ladders stationed across the city. Each of the escapes was manned by a "conductor." Escape ladder stations outnumbered fire stations housing the engines.

In "The Fireman's Own Book'' - published in 1860 - George P. Little wrote:

"The fire was discovered by police constable 44 C, who observed smoke issuing through the windows on the southern corner of the first floor. Several persons quickly made their appearance at the front and back windows in their night clothes. Such a strong hold had the fire obtained, that in less than ten minutes the flames were shooting forth from the windows with great fury, and extending nearly half way across the road.

"The police constable, on giving the alarm, had the presence of mind to send messengers for the fire-escapes and engines; consequently, in a few minutes, two escapes, belonging to the Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire, were at the scene of conflagration, and also the parish engine. The one belonging to the County Office was also early in arriving, as well as several belonging to the London Brigade and the West of England, from the station in Waterloo Road.

"The first object that was sought to be accomplished was the rescue of the inmates, but before ladders or the escapes could be placed in front of the building, a number of persons got out upon a small balcony over the doorway, and, being assisted by the police and neighbors, they were enabled to effect their escape in safety.

"The persons in the upper floors were obliged to remain until the escapes could be placed to their windows. As soon as that was done, several of them entered the machines, and were received below in safety.''


Rapid Spread

Little also wrote:

"The rapidity and intensity of the fire may be accounted for from the fact that the whole of the apartments were wainscotted, and that there was three times as much wood in the building as is usual in modern houses. Although, therefore, there were ten engines in attendance within half an hour of the outbreak, and a plentiful supply of water, the whole building, with the single exception of the sitting room of Mrs. Round, which remained with the supper things standing on the table uninjured and untouched, was in flames.

"In the report made by Mr. Braidwood he attributes the rapid progress of the fire to the fact that the whole of the doors were thrown open, and thus a free current of air tended to increase the flames. Her Majesty had herself witnessed the progress of the flames from the Palace, and a messenger was at an early hour sent to inquire into the extent of the damage.''

July 14, 2021

HENDERSON'S - 1960


Photo: Liverpool Ambulance

On June 22, 1960, fire destroyed Henderson's department store in Liverpool, claiming 11 lives.

The blaze led to reforms granting fire brigades legal authority conduct safety inspections of stores and offices and implement escape plans, similar to the requirements of the Factories Act.

One of the rescuers, Firefighter George Taylor, recalled the fire in a BBC interview in 2010:

"When we got to the incident the driver of the turntable ladder had seen the situation, there were people on the ledge about 100 feet up on the fourth floor of the building.

"They'd obviously managed to get out of the windows on to that ledge. A lot of heat and smoke [was] coming out of the building, flames on different levels.

"When the ladder was extended my boss was about to go up but he didn't have what we call a hook belt which was a security device.

"I'd managed to put one of those on so I called to him to let me go past him, which I did.

"As I'm going up the ladder about halfway up the people on the left hand side of the head of the ladder, two of them had been placed by Colin Murphy on to the roof of the building next door which was Bunneys department store.

"Unfortunately when I was about halfway up the ladder the heat and flame from inside the building blew him off the ledge and he went past me and he was killed. He dropped down on to the canopy outside.

"The people on the ledge, having seen what had happened to him they started to move away from where our ladder was positioned and so we had to call to them to stay where they were.

"Eventually I got to the top of the ladder and managed to get five people on to the ladder with me and as were coming down, with the blast of flame coming out of the windows, the two ladies who were amongst the group received burns to their arms and faces. It was only than I realised I didn't have a helmet on."

July 13, 2021

BETHNAL GREEN ROAD - 2004

In 2004, Whitechapel station firefighters Bill Faust and Adam Meere became the first London firefighters to die in the line of duty in more than a decade.

Faust, 36, and Meere, 27, were fatally injured at an eight-pump fire on Bethnal Green Road in East London on July 20, 2004. They died at Royal London Hospital.

Meere had joined the bridage a few months earlier.

The fire in the three-story structure was reported at 4 a.m. ``The firefighters got into difficulty in the lower part of the building where the fire was most severe,'' the BBC reported.

The men, both wearing breathing apparatus, were pulled from the flames by their colleagues, but it was too late.

In 1993, a firefighter died in Willesden in north London.

PRINCESS'S THEATRE - 1829


 Fire at Royal Princess's Theatre, 73 Oxford Street in London, in 1829. It was rebuilt.

July 12, 2021

ST CATHERINE'S - 1913


On May 6, 1913, fire gutted St. Catherine's Church in London and contemporary reports suggested the fire was set by suffragettes. The suffragettes were responsible for a series of blazes across London meant to protest government policy.

April 20, 2021

ROYAL VISITOR - 1974


Photo: Wiki Commons


Queen Elizabeth II meeting London Fire Brigade members who responded to 1974's wave of IRA bombings. She is escorted by Chief Officer Joseph Milnerin at London Fire Brigade headquarters in Lambeth.

LONDON'S TOLL


The Luftwaffe dropped thousands of bombs on London from 1939 to 1945, killing almost 30,000 people and demolishing more than than 70,000 buildings. Additionally, 1.7 million structures sustained bomb damage.

October 16, 2019

HOME FRONT CASUALTIES


According to website Rescue 1: "The wartime casualties to the fire service during raid firefighting in England and Wales amounted to roughly 700 fireman and 20 firewomen killed in action and 6,000 seriously injured. In one raid alone, 91 firemen died and several hundred were injured protecting London."

September 20, 2019

COVENT GARDEN - 1954


Photos: Institution of Fire Engineers

Firefighters from London's old Clerkenwell fire station paid dearly in life and flesh at a warehouse blaze at Covent Garden on May 11, 1954.

The five-story building, constructed of steel frame and brick with wooden floors, suffered  structural failure, according to the Institution of Fire Engineers.

The alarm was received at 3 p.m.


"While fighting a fire in a warehouse containing fruit and vegetables, adjacent to Covent Garden, London, Station Officer Fred Hawkins and Fireman A E J Batt-Rawden, both of Clerkenwell Fire Station, lost their lives,'' according to Fire magazine.


"Sub Officer Sidney Peen, Leading Fireman Ernest Datlin, Fireman Kenneth Aylward, Fireman Charles Gadd, Fireman Frederick Parr and Fireman Daniel Stocking were all sent to hospital. Three of the injured required plastic surgery treatment.''

Covent Garden was a hub for fruit and vegetable businesses, staring with a small open-air market in 1654, according to Wikipedia.

On Dec. 21, 1949, fire broke out in stacks of Christmas trees stored in catacombs beneath a Covent Garden market, claiming a fireman's life.

BARBICAN - 1902

On April 21, 1902, fire erupted at MacQueen's hat factory in the Barbican and wind-whipped flames gutted adjacent buildings. "Three hundred firemen and 40 fire engines were engaged,'' The New York Times said. "Owing to the danger that Aldergate Street Station might catch fire, traffic on the Metropolitan Railway was temporarily suspended. The guests of the Manchester Hotel, adjacent to the Aldergate Street station, hurriedly left.'' Chief Fire Officer Wells directed the firefighting. Two firemen were injured.

MOORGATE TUBE - 1908

"The most serious fire which has as yet taken place in the network of the tube railways under London broke out recently about 25 yds. from the Moorgate st. station of the City & South London railway," the magazine Fire Engineering reported in 1908.

"Contrary to the inactive proceedings of our Interborough company, either on its subway or elevated lines, managers were at once dispatched along the line; the trains were stopped and the passengers sent to the surface.

"The electric current was at once cut off, so that no live wires or rails handicapped the firemen (wearing) smoke-helmets. Even with these on, they could not enter at Moorgate, the flame and smoke being so severe, and engines and men were dispatched to the stations at the Bank and Old street.

"The firemen soon had the blaze under control. There was a big crowd at Moorgate street station awaiting transportation: but no panic ensued and all the expectant passengers were taken up to the street by the elevators."

August 21, 2019

LAMBETH TURNOUT

Photo: LFB Twitter
Fire crews turn out from London Fire Brigade's old headquarters at Lambeth along the Thames, circa 1930.   

July 16, 2018

GATESHEAD - 1854


Photo: skyscrapercity.com

On Oct. 6, 1854, a fire and explosion ravaged the neighboring towns of Gateshead and Newcastle upon Tyne, killing 53 people and causing scores of injuries. The fire started in a mill in Gateshead and burning debris crossed the River Tyne into Newcastle.

SUMMER OF FIRE - 2018

Photo: Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Drought led to an outbreak of grass fires from Manchester to London during the summer of 2018.

In London, more than 200 firefighters battled a peat fire on Wanstead Flats, one of the largest ever in fire brigade history, on July 15, 2018.

``Peat fires are complex because they burn underground and travel before reappearing above the surface somewhere different,'' Allen Perez, deputy commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, said.

EUSTON PUB - 2018

Photo: London Fire Brigade 

A picture is worth a thousand words and this image illustrates, in the words of a London Fire Brigade officer,
``how important it is to ensure your cigarette is completely out when you've finished smoking it.'' On June 22, 2018, flames broke out at the historic Somers Town Coffee House, a popular pub near the Euston, St Pancras and King's Cross rail stations, while customers were watching a World Cup match. 

`I AM ANGRY'

Grenfell Tower disaster, June 14, 2017 - 72 dead, 70 injured, 223 escaped

David Badillo, front, and watch manager Michael Dowden at Grenfell Tower

By Daily Telegraph
June 29, 2018


With the plea of a young girl’s sister ringing in his ears a firefighter at Grenfell Tower undertook a desperate “personal mission” to rescue a 12-year-old from the flames.

David Badillo effectively ignored London Fire Brigade instructions to residents of the tower to stay in their homes by going up to the 20th floor to try and find Jessica Urbano Ramirez and bring her down to safety.

But to this day he remains haunted by his failure to find the young girl, who had fled her flat and climbed to the 23rd floor, where she later died.

Recalling how he was unable to save Jessica, Mr Badillo broke down on Friday as he gave evidence at the public inquiry into the disaster, which claimed 72 lives in June last year.

He had set out to find the Jessica after bumping into her sister on the ground floor of Grenfell Tower, as the fire began to take hold above them.

Mr Badillo, part of the North Kensington crew which was first to arrive at the scene, said in his written statement: "She said that her sister was 12 years old and called Jessica and that she was in the flat alone. She looked very distressed - panicked and anxious.

"I told her not to worry and that I would go and get Jessica on my own as I didn't want to endanger her."

Asked by Richard Millett QC, the lead counsel to the inquiry, why he felt it was necessary to rescue her, given the stay-put policy , Mr Badillo said: "She was on her own and there is obviously a fire in the tower."

Pressed on the policy, he continued: "I didn't think about that, no, I just wanted to go up - it was a young, 12-year-old girl on her own, I just wanted to go and get her out."

Residents and fire safety experts have criticised the decision by London Fire Brigade commanders not to abandon the stay put policy until 2.47am , more than an hour after it had become obvious the fire had spread out of control.

After making his promise to Jessica’s sister, and taking the keys to their flat, Mr Badillo decided to break "normal procedure" and head above the floor where the fire had broken out.

He said: "I just wanted to go and get the little girl out of the flat, as she was alone. I risk assessed the situation and did not think that I was in danger.

"I didn't tell anyone what I was doing as there was so much going on. I also thought that I would be told no, but I was worried for the girl's safety"

The 20-year LFB veteran took the lift to the 20th floor without breathing apparatus, but was swamped with "thick, black smoke" when it stopped on floor 15.

He groped his way to the stairwell and headed outside, where he realised the blaze was looking more dangerous.

Enlisting the help of crew manager Chris Secrett and Chris Dorgu he went back up in the lift, which this time stopped at the eighth floor, forcing the trio to battle on foot through smoke filled corridors to the 20th.

Here they found the door to flat 176 ajar and Jessica nowhere to be seen.

He wrote: "I checked all of the typical hiding places, under the bed and in the cupboards, but did not find anyone. We were shouting out and searching by stamping and sweeping to feel our way round, using our torches.

"I felt that with the front door being found ajar and us searching the rooms twice that Jessica must have gotten out."

Mr Badillo - who said the radios fitted to the firefighters’ breathing apparatus suffered from poor reception and hampered communications - compared the unfolding horror to a "disaster movie", with material "exploding overhead" and "fireballs coming down all over the place".

He said: "I could clearly see people, still inside, at their windows, waving for help whilst holding their phones which were lit up. I looked to where we had just been on the 20th floor and it was glowing orange - it was a raging inferno and the fire was up to the 23rd floor. I knew in my heart of hearts that not everyone was going to make it out."

Mr Badillo added: "It has deeply affected me and it is never far from my thoughts. I am angry that this fire happened and feel that there are many factors that made things worse."

On hearing for the first time that 999 operators had spoken to Jessica and knew she was on the 23rd floor - not the 20th - Mr Badillo began to sob in the witness box.

"I would have gone up,” he said.

February 28, 2018

VERNON MILLS - 1902

Tragedy at Vernon Mills

The Manchester Evening News - in an article dated July 4, 2017 - reports retired journalist and broadcaster Dave Hulme is attempting to locate descendants of victims of the deadly Vernon Mills fire.

The Nov. 5, 1902 blaze - which 
broke out in a cotton spinning machine on the third floor of the No. 1 mill - killed nine men, including Hulme's great grandfather, Issac Peet. 

They were 
Thomas Hipwell, Joseph Beard, George Rowarth, Thomas Ashton, John Cotton, William Wright, Richard Jones and Robert Hunt.

Additionally, Joseph Adshead, who suffered burns, died three years later.


If you can help, Hulme's e-mail is 
david.r.hulme@btinternet.com, according to the Evening News.

February 03, 2018

PIER FIRE - 2008



On July 28, 2008, flames engulfed the century-old Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare and Avon Fire and Rescue Service deployed 13 engines, special units and 60 firefighters to fight the blaze.

January 29, 2018

ROYAL MAIL FIRE - 1954

On Oct. 5, 1954, fire swept the top floor of the Royal Mail Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, forcing the evacuation of thousands of workers and a quantity of mail from one of the largest postal facilities in London.

``The call went out to Clerkenwell fire station, conveniently situated immediately opposite the buildings, and firemen were on the scene within two minutes'' but it later ``emerged that over twenty minutes had elapsed between the discovery of the fire and making the emergency call,'' according to the British Postal Museum & Archive website.

The Postmaster General was questioned about the incident in Parliament. It was determined the post office firefighting squad attempted to extinguish the blaze before calling for outside assistance.

January 09, 2018

STAPLES CORNER - 2018



Photos: London Fire Brigade
On Jan. 8, 2018,  15 engines responded to a fire at a paint factory on Waterloo Road, Staples Corner, London.

December 27, 2017

LONDON ZOO - 2017

Misha the arrdvark

Photos: London Zoo, Sky News
On Dec. 23, 2017, a fire at the London Zoo killed Misha the arrdvark. Ten fire engines and 72 firefighters and officers responded. Station Manager David George said: "The fire mainly involved the cafĂ© and shop but part of a nearby animal petting area was also affected. 
When they arrived our crews were faced with a very well develop
ed fire.''

December 22, 2017

WESTMINSTER - 1834


On Oct. 16, 1834, fire ripped through the Palace of Westminster, home of British Parliament.

The first hint of disaster was a burning odor reported at 4 p.m. Flames were visible by 6 p.m. and flashed over 30 minutes later, according to Wikipedia.

Two parish pumps were the first on the scene at about 6:45 p.m.

At 7 p.m., Superintendent James Braidwood of the London Fire Engine Establishment  responded with 12 engines and 64 firefighters.

Eyewitness William Baddeley described the scene in Mechanics Magazine,  Feb. 14, 1835 edition:


I was called to the scene 
of action about seven o’clock, from observing a deep crimson hue in the sky, which pretty well indicated both the situation and magnitude of the conflagration, although there was a strong twilight at the time, and the moon was shining with great brilliancy.

 On 
arriving in Old Palace-yard, about half-past seven, I found the House of Lords, and suite of rooms facing the Yard, enveloped in one vivid mass of flame; the House of Commons soon after ignited; and the fire, fanned by a strong south-west wind, gradually extended to the Commons’ committee-room and waiting-room, &c.


Several engines had arrived, and were stationed by their foremen in Old Palace yard, as was supposed, under the idea “that they could never be wrong when they laid their engines abroadside the burning buildings.”

The water, though at first rather scant, was afterwards tolerably plentiful; the engines were well manned, and worked with great spirit, but their powers were for some time sadly misapplied.


Several of 
the firemen mounted the portico in front of the building, pouring their jets of water upon parts that were in a state of most intense combustion, while it was evident enough to all but themselves,that they were exposing themselves to great danger without a possibility of being useful.

Several engines belonging to the London
 Fire Establishment were in full work by half-past seven, when that from Watling-street station arrived, with Mr. Braidwood, the superintendent, who immediately commenced a survey of the fire, for the purpose of placing the men and engines under his command in the most advantageuos positions.

Mr. Braidwood 
was not long in forming his “line of battle,” and all the force of the combined Establishment present, became actively engaged with their elemental foe.


Soon
 after eight o'clock, the flames were advancing towards the square turret at the corner of St. Margaret-street, at the uppermost window of which several persons appeared, and in the most earnest manner implored assistance; two or three ladders were at hand, but they all proved too short to reach the window; a call was immediately raised for the brigade ladders, and it was most promptly answered.

Several lengths
 of scaling ladders were instantly brought to the spot, and the two first ladders were scarcely put together when Mr. Braidwood came up.

Length after length was
 added, until six had formed a ladder of the requisite height. The joining and raising of six ladders is a work of some minutes; while it was steadily proceeding, the most intense anxiety was depicted on the countenances of all the spectators, and when at length the ladder reached the window where the unfortunate persons were collected, a simultaneous shout of applause burst from the assembled throng.

The persons thus rescued proved
 to be Lord F. Fitzclarence and some soldiers; his lordship was the last to descend.

The promptitude with which the ladders were brought up, and the steady masterly style in which they were elevated, reflect much credit on Messrs. Adams, Carter, Elderton,
 Moore, and George and Henry Rose, who, under the direction and with the assistance of Mr. Braidwood, effected this movement.

These ladders were very
 extensively employed at this fire.

Long before eight o'clock great apprehensions
 were felt for the safety of Westminster-hall, and it at length became evident that the fire had extended so much in that direction as to place it in the utmost jeopardy.


To effect the preservation of this venerable building appeared to be a strong and universal feeling, and the most extraordinary efforts were made on its behalf.

Mr. George Colf (late foreman of the Alliance) of the Farringdon-street station, ran his engine into the body of the Hall, and was quickly followed by Mr. E. Bourne, of the Waterloo-road station; two other engines, placed in New Palace-yard, supplied the former with water.
The firemen ascended by means of a ladder to a lead flat outside the great window of the Hall, and kept up a continued deluge upon the flames.