As the helicopter neared Pudding Lane, Edward could better make out the details of it. Slung below the cabin was a large tarpaulin, secured at each corner and hanging low with the weight of its contents.
‘Dear God,’ gasped Hobbington. ‘It’s water! The whole thing’s full of water.’
As the helicopter swooped low over the burning bakery, two corners of the tarpaulin were released and a deluge of Thames river-water came crashing onto the fire. For a moment, all was smoke and steam and chaos, but when Edward had picked himself up and blinked away the ash, he could see that no spark of flame remained in the charred, sodden building.
‘They did it!’ he shouted, tearing away the strip of cloth he had tied over his mouth. ‘The fire’s out.’
‘And not a moment too soon,’ added Hobbington. ‘It was just about to spread to the adjoining buildings, then into the tinder-dry slums and eventually out across the whole city, destroying much of London’s skyline and necessitating a huge program of rebuilding and architectural renewal.’
‘Phew,’ said Edward. ‘That was close.’