Train services have been disrupted and buildings evacuated due to a large fire causing “bursts of black smoke” under railway arches in central London.
Ten fire engines and about 70 firefighters were called to the blaze in Union Street, Southwark, on Wednesday morning, where the railway arch was completely alight, according to the London fire brigade.
Train operator Southeastern said all routes through nearby London Bridge station were severely disrupted.
Student Lauren Chopin, 20, who lives two minutes’ walk from the fire, said she was having to wear a mask in her apartment due to the fumes. “There is a lot of smoke all through Union Street and neighboring streets, there are many fire emergency services trying to put out the fire,” she told the PA news agency.
“It sometimes slows down and the smoke becomes whiter, only to be followed by another huge burst of black smoke … we have closed all doors and windows to limit the amount of smoke coming in.”
Hanushe Lala, from Streatham in south London, was evacuated from her workplace as a result of the smoke. “I was in a meeting at around 9.44am, when the alarms started going off and everyone was looking around to find out if it was real. Then we all got told to leave the building,” the 24-year-old, who works in facilities management, told PA shortly after 10.30am.
“Everything has been cornered off and there’s thick, black smoke pouring out of the archway. All the buildings around us have been evacuated … around half an hour ago the place was swarming with people but now everyone is starting to move away because they’ve told us we won’t be let back in for a while because the fire is so bad and getting worse.”
London fire brigade station commander Wayne Johnson said from the scene: “The blaze is producing heavy smoke and those living or working in the local area are advised to keep their windows and doors closed.
“Trains to and from London Bridge are affected and several buildings have been evacuated.”
The fire service said it had taken more than 33 emergency calls regarding the blaze, which it was first alerted to at 9.29am.
Train operator South on Twitter: “Due to a fire next to the track between Waterloo East and London Bridge, services across all routes through London Bridge are severely disrupted.
“Trains are being fun to other London terminals or terminated at alternative locations.”
Network Rail wrote on Twitter: “A fire broke out in an arch under (the) railway. London Fire Brigade are on site with multiple pumps and we have closed the railway until we can confirm it’s safe.”
It added: “We’re working with the London Fire Brigade and we will need to inspect the railway once the fire out before we can reopen. Thank you for bearing with us.”