LONDON – A huge fire broke out near a major London train station on Monday, sending a fireball into the streets and vast plumes of smoke over parts of the city. Around 100 firefighters fought for two hours to bring the blaze under control.
Police said the blast was unrelated to terrorism, calming nerves after onlookers posted dramatic footage of flames emerging from a garage under the arcades below Elephant and Castle station.
Five people were inside the garage, which housed an auto repair shop, when the fire broke out shortly before 2 p.m. One person was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, according to London Fire Station Commander James Ryan. The other four had already left when the firefighters arrived, he added.
The London ambulance service said six people had been treated for injuries at the scene and one had been taken to hospital.
Firefighters and police evacuated Elephant and Castle station, which is a major transit hub in south London, as well as a nearby residential building, sending people to adjacent streets. Firefighters also warned nearby residents to keep doors and windows closed during the incident.
“There are significant road closures in place and the public is advised to avoid the area,” Southwark Police posted on Twitter, adding that “the incident is not related to terrorism.”
Firefighters said three business units under the arches that support the station caught fire, along with four cars and a phone booth. Shortly before 4 p.m., the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the blaze, which he described as “very serious”, had been brought under control.
The Sun, a British tabloid, published footage of what it said was a policeman carrying two young children up a staircase to safety. Elephant and Castle tube station remained open and police said they hoped to reopen the streets by early evening.
A neighborhood theater, Southwark Playhouse, opened, posting: “If you’ve been evacuated and need a place to go, our door is open so you can charge your phone, get water. or sit in our bar.