Large fire hits SE London; 310 people evacuated

AP News
Posted: Nov 26, 2009 7:06 AM

A fierce fire cut through apartment blocks and a construction site in southeast London early Thursday, spreading across a road and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people.

More than 125 firefighters spent hours battling the blaze in the area of Peckham, where television footage from early in the morning showed flames bursting through the top floors of a four-story building.

"The ferocity of the fire was a challenge when we first arrived because all the buildings were simultaneously burning," London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Steve Turek said. "Homes were a particular concern to us because residents would have been sleeping."

Police said that four people were taken to the hospital but that no one suffered any serious injuries.

"The heat of the blaze must have been unimaginable," said Harriet Harman, the area's parliamentary representative, who doubles as leader of the House of Commons. "It's really a miracle that nobody lost their life."

Police said 310 people had been evacuated. Residents covered in British Red Cross blankets could be seen being taken from the scene.

Fire officials said the blaze has since been contained.