A major fire broke out late Saturday at London’s famous Camden market, ripping through one of the city’s top tourist draws and a nearby celebrity hangout, fire officials and witnesses said.
Flames from the blaze sent bright red cinders and huge plumes of smoke into the night sky. Fire officials said the blaze was brought under control more than three hours after it was reported. There were no casualties reported.
The fire spread quickly across the market and surrounding buildings, consuming part of the Hawley Arms, a famous pub that has attracted celebrities including singer Amy Winehouse, rocker Peter Doherty and model Kate Moss.
Associated Press Television News video showed firefighters shooting water on the upper stories of the building housing the pub, eventually controlling the flames. Hundreds of people poured out into the streets, taking pictures of the inferno as police tried to push the crowds back and set up protective cordons.
“I’ve never seen a fire spread that fast,” said Ross Smith, 28, who works for a local tattoo parlor. “It was licking up the buildings.”
Police said it was too early to comment on the possible cause of the blaze. A London fire department spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy, said more than 100 firefighters and 20 vehicles were at the scene fighting the inferno at the sprawling clothes and crafts market.
The culturally vibrant Camden area has six open-air and indoor markets hawking everything from handmade soaps to second hand clothing. Originally established as a craft market in 1974, it is now the center of London’s alternative fashion scene, and its clubs and bars are popular with musicians.
Firefighters said the fire was centered around the Camden Canal Market, where a number of stalls had been consumed.
The maze-like markets are packed tightly on weekends when hordes of tourists descend on Camden to snap up T-shirts and jewelry. Some traders have been protesting the local authority’s plan to redevelop the Stables Market, one of Camden’s biggest, into two new four-story commercial structures.
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