Dozens of firefighters and engines were tackling a blaze at a London station Monday afternoon, which seems to have taken hold in tunnels leading to a major redevelopment project and housing auto repair shop units.
A column of black smoke could be seen rising over London Monday afternoon as a reported 100 firemen and over a dozen fire engines fought a fire raging beneath the Elephant and Castle Station in Southwark.
Video shared to social media — some from the vantage points of nearby residential towers — shows smoke pouring from between the tracks and platforms as a fire below rages. In one video, the moment a huge fireball explodes onto Elephant Street from under the track viaduct shows the extent to which the fire had taken hold.
— Megan Jearum (@MeganJearum) June 28, 2021
Um London wtf is going on?! pic.twitter.com/wbPMdpNijF
— Matthew James Lister (@MrMattLister) June 28, 2021
The fire in #elephantandcastle is now under control. Firefighters will remain at the scene for the next few hours to dampen down the scene. Road closures are still in place in the area. pic.twitter.com/jAJge09Obg
— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) June 28, 2021
The fire seems to be taking place inside or nearby the arches underneath the bridge that carries the rails and station above the streets of south London. As is common practice in the United Kingdom, many of these arches are rented out as self-contained units to small businesses, and some of those arches next to the blast site are occupied by automobile repair companies.
Long regarded as a diverse neighbourhood with a landmark modernist shopping centre, Elephant and Castle became popular with students for its fast access to central London’s universities and comparatively cheap rents. Latterly, the area is under a process of extensive redevelopment, with swathes of the area being flattened for towerblock development.
As part of that redevelopment, the enormous Elephant and Castle shopping centre is being demolished, a process that started earlier this year, to make way for new commercial, residential, and educational units. The fireball footage circulating on social media Monday suggests the tunnel at the heart of the blaze is actually a service entrance to the old shopping centre, now being used as access for demolition and building crews on the decade-long redevelopment project.
London Fire Brigade said that the fire had set alight three commercial units “completely alight”, as well as four cars and a telephone box. All train services through the area have been suspended and, depending on the damage from the fire to the lines and station above, maybe for some time.
This story is developing