child_of_fay (child_of_fay) wrote in little_details,

4 Questions about Fires in Victorian London

Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel
Setting: London, England (see question 4)

Dates: 1897-1898

Question 1: How fast is a brick middle class house of the time going to burn down?

What I plan on happening: My character was attached in her upstairs bedroom and in the fight that followed something (see fuel) starts a fire in a corner of the room. The trick is she is now tied to a chair in the middle of the room. While these demons that don’t seem to care that the house is on fire are performing a spell on her. I kind of intend the fire to be more of a background thing not the immediate danger because there will be a fight between my character (who is by that point being controlled by the demons) and her boy friend (main character)  going on while the house is burning. 

Fuel:  I want the fire to be started by a lamp being knocked over; which at the time would I think be oil (correct me if I’m wrong); or a candle or something else depending on what will give the desired effect.

What I Need To Know: I’m wondering what the most likely way for this to happen would be? How fast the fire would spread because I want the house burnt to the ground but have enough time for someone to pull people out. I’m looking for a slow burn not like something catches and things explode (well not right away) but I don’t know what would do that. I also want to describe the fire as it goes over something: drape, floor (not sure yet, ideas?) would there be a color to it that would be different depending on the kind of fuel it was like how gasoline can have a blue tinge to it or fire can look yellow not orange?

Question 2 : What would the smoke smell like?

What I plan on happening: I have my main character coming to the house and he smells the smoke first. He is a vampire which is why I’m asking this. I know smoke smells different depending on where it’s come from. So I think he’d be able to tell it’s not fireplace smoke but smoke of burning plaster and wallpaper glue and carpet but I have no idea how to describe those smells or if I should scarp that idea and just say he smells smoke but how to describe it? I believe at the time London ran on coal so I assume the smell of that smoke would always be in the air. Also I’m thinking the at this point no one outside the home realizes there is a fire yet. Also would there have been also would there be a fire department coming at some point? What would that be like given the era?

Question 3: What would the aftermath of this fire be?

What I plan on happening: My main character goes back to the house after he’s been saved from the burning building. What would that be like? The building is brick and I would like considerable damage done but I need him to find a ring his girlfriend was wearing before she was dusted. But I don’t know how likely that is being how she died in the room the fire started in and the fire had then spread through the house and it was in an upstairs room. Edit for Clarification: Both my characters are vampires and in the shows I'm writing the story about vampires when they are killed they intently turn to dust so there technically is not a physical body to find at the most a pile of ashes.

Question 4: I’m wondering about the setting and I would really like to put a few street names in there; or an area depending on how London was divided. I need where the house is; like I said I’m thinking a middle class home. I’m also looking for the names and or streets of London slums at the time. And an area one might go to get herbs and magical/questionable objects.

Searched: Tried looking up (using Google and then Wikipedia) firefighting in the Victorian era, Areas of Victorian London (both in text and map form), hazards in a Victorian era home, colors fire burns, burnt out brick houses, I was able to find one webpage on Victorian slums but not enough to really help.

If you want more information just ask. Any answers you can give would be very much appreciated.

Tags: 1890-1899, uk: london, ~firefighting, ~fires

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