Firefighters tackle huge blaze near railway station

Around 100 firefighters battled a huge blaze near a railway station which caused a large plume of smoke to billow over south London.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said shortly before 4pm that the fire close to Elephant and Castle station was “under control”, but its crews will remain in place “for the next few hours to dampen down the scene”.

A video of the blaze posted on social media showed an explosion leading to a burst of flames.

Two people were treated for smoke inhalation, London mayor Sadiq Khan said.

LFB said the fire is believed have started at some nearby garages.

The blaze was first reported at 1.43pm on Monday. Around 100 firefighters and 15 engines were at the scene at 3.18pm.

Three commercial units underneath railway arches were “completely alight” and six cars and a telephone box also caught fire, according to the brigade.

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The railway station and nearby buildings were evacuated.

Rail lines running through the station, causing disruption to Thameslink and Southeastern services.

Northern Line trains on the London Underground were prevented from stopping at Elephant and Castle Tube station, but services later returning to normal.

A Metropolitan Police said: “There are significant road closures in place and the public are advised to avoid the area.

“The incident is not believed to be terror-related.”

Sara Scarpa, 25, lives in nearby apartment building Hurlock Heights and said smoke and the noise of the explosion had reached her window.

“We opened the window for a sec as you could hear people shouting, and we smelt something very very strong,” she said.

“The smoke (was) dying down a little… we heard an explosion and now it started again.”

Fire broke out at garages close to Elephant and Castle railway station
Fire broke out at garages close to Elephant and Castle railway station (@scarascarpashoe/Twitter/PA)

A restaurant worker close to Elephant and Castle station said she was evacuated after the fire broke out.

Alex Leckie, 30, assistant manager at Tupi, said: “The entire building was evacuated, we began to smell smoke and the store owner went to check, we saw smoke billowing out and what I’m told is the mechanics were on fire, the smoke pillar started enveloping the apartment blocks as well and we kept hearing intermittent bangs.

“The police have indicated it could be some time (until they are allowed back inside). They have repeatedly pushed the crowds back even from the Castle Square Park and cordoned off the roads, there is a very, very heavy presence.

“At this point emergency crews have everyone well clear of the area.”

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Martin Bobrowski, a builder who is working opposite the station, said he heard ambulances and police driving nearby before seeing smoke coming from the station at about 2pm.

“I heard the police come and I thought there was an accident nearby, but then they started blocking the road off. I then came outside for a cigarette and saw all the black smoke,” he told the PA news agency.

“I was really surprised to see it and a bit scared.

“They haven’t told us anything.

“The smell was awful. It smelt like a burning electrical cable smell.”