The 1791 Great Fire
Belpech, a village to discover
From yesteryears to nowadays, what a history…
You are in the heart of the “bridge quarter” (quartier du pont), which was closed by a great medieval door set at the end of the bridge over the Vixiège, towards the Oratory square (place de l'Oratoire). A terrible fire started in that street on December 16, 1791 at 8 o’clock in the morning. Flax and hay, stored in the back shop of the cobbler Jean Marcel, took fire.
“Fire, there is a fire at Jean Marcel’s, the cobbler”
Gusts of Cers (local name of the north-westerly wind) quickly spread the fire to the whole neighbourhood, up to the Clastre (currently place Mauléon). It is said that “flames licked the market hall’s roof”. Houses, shops, workshops, stores, gardens… over a third of the village was destroyed. At 10 o’clock at night, the fire was finally put out, but ambers burned for almost three months…
Overall, 97 houses burned, including Saint-Jacques’ hospital. The site of the hospital remained vacant for half a century and the town hall was built there in 1845.
Thanks to L.and T.Guillosson for translation