Elephant and Castle fire: Two hurt in huge blaze at railway arches

image copyrightReutersimage captionSeveral people reported hearing explosions after the fire took hold

Two people were injured and several buildings evacuated after a fire caused a huge plume of smoke to billow into the sky above south London.

About 100 firefighters battled the blaze at some railway arches near Elephant and Castle station.

Fire crews were called shortly before 13:45 BST and local residents reported hearing a number of explosions.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said three commercial units were alight along with six cars and a telephone box.

media captionSeveral roads were closed in the area as a huge plume of smoke billowed into the sky

A police officer and a member of the public both needed treatment for the effects of smoke inhalation, according to the mayor of London.

People living in the area have been warned to keep doors and windows closed and all trains have been stopped from running through Elephant and Castle.

image [email protected] captionA huge plume of smoke was visible above south London

Fifteen fire engines were called to the scene, with the fire thought to have started in some garages close to the railway station.

Anthony King told the BBC he was about to catch his train home when he saw smoke coming out of a car mechanics and "after about five to six minutes, canisters went up".

The 51-year-old said the fire then spread to the adjoining arches and "there was acrid smoke going up as high as the new towers".

Three commercial units underneath the railway arches are completely alight and four cars and a telephone box are also alight near #ElephantandCastle Railway Station. Road closures are in place and people are advised to avoid the area and keep windows and doors closed pic.twitter.com/yALJKnVd8d

— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) June 28, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Sara Scarpa, 25, who lives in nearby apartment building Hurlock Heights, said: "We opened the window for a sec as you could hear people shouting, and we smelt something very, very strong.

"The smoke (was) dying down a little… we heard an explosion and now it started again," she said.

image [email protected] captionThree commercial units were alight, firefighters said

Alex Lecki, who works in a restaurant in Elephant and Castle, said his entire building had been evacuated.

"We saw smoke billowing out… the smoke pillar started enveloping the apartment blocks as well and we kept hearing intermittent bangs," the 30-year-old said.

He added that police had "indicated it could be some time" before they would be allowed to return.

Another restaurant worker, 21-year-old Abdullah Safi, said the flames were "burning so high" and were reaching about 50ft in height.

"I've never seen something that big – I was scared. And it exploded twice," he said.

image copyrightBen Lovellimage captionLFB said it received nearly 50 calls about the blaze

Shortly before 16:00, LFB tweeted that the fire was under control but firefighters would remain at the scene for a few hours to dampen down the scene.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

The Met said that "significant road closures" were still in place and people were advised to avoid the area.

London mayor Sadiq Khan praised the emergency services, who he said had acted quickly to ensure both local residents and passengers at Elephant and Castle station were safely evacuated.

image copyrightLFBimage captionFire crews are expected to remain at the scene for several hours

Thameslink said trains between St Albans and Sutton and between London Blackfriars and Sevenoaks were affected by the closed rail lines.

Travellers have been advised to use buses, London Underground services, trams or some trains run by Southeastern, Southern and South Western Railway.

Northern Line Tube services through Elephant and Castle were also not stopping at the station "as a precaution", Transport for London said.

image [email protected] captionTrains have been stopped from travelling through the area

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