Kingsway, one of central London’s busiest roads, remains closed as the London Fire Brigade reports difficulties in trying to put out the intense underground tunnel blaze.
There are six fire engines and 35 firefighters and officers still at the scene.
Although the safety cordon has been reduced the closure of Kingsway and adjacent side streets is having a serious impact on the businesses, public bodies and theatres located in the area.
Both today’s performances of ‘Beautiful’ at the Aldwych Theatre have been cancelled.
The Peacock has also cancelled today’s 7pm performance of English National Ballet’s ‘My First Ballet: Swan Lake’, but they’re expecting to go ahead with tomorrow’s matinee.
Richard Beddoe, Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for city management, said:
Our message remains the same – we want to see better investment in the capital’s infrastructure, as it benefits the whole UK.
We are relieved to hear that there were no serious casualties, but the losses to big businesses in the West End, due to poor infrastructure, is just not acceptable.
We want to see action.
There remains a fire in the sub surface tunnel which involves a gas leak which the gas authorities are attempting to isolate.
Local properties will be without gas supplies while the incident is being dealt with.
London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Dany Cotton said:
This is a technically difficult and unusual incident to tackle as it is underground. 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.
The Brigade was initially called at 12.39 yesterday.
In a declared ‘major incident’ thousands of people were evacuated and transport services severely disrupted.
Crews from fire stations including Soho, Lambeth, Dowgate, Shoreditch and Euston attended the incident.
The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.