Holborn fire still raging as firefighters try to establish cause

 
Catherine Neilan
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Kingsway fire, which broke out yesterday afternoon (Source: Getty)

The electrical fire that broke out in Holborn yesterday afternoon has still not been extinguished – and the cause is still unknown.

London Fire Brigade now has six fire engines and 35 firefighters on the scene of the cable tunnel fire on Kingsway, Holborn. Part of the road is still cordoned off, although restrictions are now reduced to the south and of Kingsway and some side roads.
The fire has been contained, but had not been put out because it was such a “technically difficult incident to tackle”, said LFC assistant commissioner Peter Cowup.
Although it is still unclear what has caused the fire, it has been tracked back to an underground tunnel "which involves a gas leak". Local properties are without gas while the incident is being dealt with.


The fire erupting from a manhole yesterday (Source: Getty)

“The reason that the fire is still burning is because the service tunnel is hard to reach and although firefighters have been applying water through access points throughout the night, the complexity of the tunnel layout means that it will be some time until the fire is fully extinguished,” he explained.
“However, the fire is contained and we are making steady progress and working with the utility companies and the police to bring this incident to a close.”
At the height of the incident, 10 fire engines and around 70 firefighters and officers were in attendance. Crews from fire stations including Soho, Lambeth, Dowgate, Shoreditch and Euston attended the incident.


The fire was attended by 10 engines and 75 firefighters (Source: Getty)

Cowup added: "Crews worked closely with the various electricity companies involved to identify the source and extent of the fire which was underground. As this was likely to be an electrical fire we had to ensure the power was off before we applied water to extinguish it.
“We worked with our partners and implemented a well-rehearsed plan to prevent the fire from spreading and to protect surrounding properties.
“The power has now been isolated and so the fire is contained."
LFB assistant commissioner Dany Cotton added: "Firefighting in tunnels is very hazardous and one of the reasons that the fire is still burning is because of the dangers involved in extinguishing the fire before the gas supply is shut down, which could result in the risk of a subsequent gas explosion.
"Firefighters have however been applying water through access points throughout the night, to control the spread of the fire."

“The fire is contained in the tunnel and we are making steady progress and working with the utility companies and the police to bring this incident to a close. Local road closures are still in place and it is affecting over one hundred businesses. We’d ask people to avoid the immediate area if possible.”

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