Blaze shuts famous London market

Police are today warning people to stay away from London's famous Camden Market as the clean-up operation begins after a huge blaze that took more than 100 firefighters to bring under control.

Police say parts of Camden Town in north London will be closed for the next "three or four days" as structural engineers assess the damage to buildings.

A total of 100 beds were made available for people evacuated from their homes at a sports centre, but Camden Council said all 29 people, including at least 11 children, who attended the centre were found accommodation at hotels in the borough.

Crowds of revellers from the area's pubs and bars were moved away as the flames took hold and leaped 30 feet into the night sky yesterday from 7.10pm onwards.

The fire raged for three hours before London Fire Brigade (LFB) said it was being brought under control. There were no reports of any injuries.

The worst-hit areas were storage properties for the Canal Market and the famous pub the Hawley Arms, which was formerly popular with Hell's Angels but more recently has transformed itself into one of the area's trendiest nightspots.

Its customers have included showbiz people including singer Amy Winehouse, fashion designer and actress Sadie Frost, Kelly Osbourne, daughter of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, musician Pete Doherty, bands including The Zutons and Razorlight, who are regulars, and Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie.

Police are urging people to avoid the area of Camden Market affected by the fire.

Chalk Farm Road and parts of Camden High Street, as well as surrounding one way streets, are expected to be closed for the next three or four days, a Scotland Yard spokesman said. Pedestrian access to the north of Camden Road will also be limited.

Camden Council is organising a meeting today to help businesses affected by the fire. Details will be posted on the council's website, www.camden.gov.uk, as soon as they have been finalised.

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, said: "Our thoughts are with those people affected by the fire in Camden Market - one of the most thriving markets in London and of enormous importance for the economy of the local area and beyond.

"Yet again the emergency services deserve our thanks for the speed and professionalism with which they have responded to tackle the blaze.

"Thankfully there appears to be no-one injured despite the fact that it is a dense area and on a Saturday evening would have been crowded."

Conservative mayoral candidate Boris Johnson, said: "Only a few weeks ago I was there talking to traders.

"This will come as a terrible blow to their livelihoods and the area generally. My thoughts are with the traders, local residents and the emergency services who are, as usual, performing brilliantly under pressure."

LFB station manager Guy Foster said the fire was centred around Camden Canal Market.

He said last night: "There's a number of shops and market stalls which have been set on fire. We are trying to get a number of aerial appliances in there to try and tackle the fire from above.

"This seems to be successful at this stage in bringing the fire under control."

Market storage areas, shops, and the Hawley Arms were affected.

Jenny Moran, a student from Brixton, was drinking in the nearby Oxford Arms in Camden High Street when she heard the first wave of fire engines arriving.

"We were just about to leave when we heard the fire engines and five minutes later police and more engines," she said.

"It seems to be dying down a little bit but it's certainly spread from when I first saw it."

A spokeswoman for Camden Council added that the only people to spend the night at the rest centre at Talacre Sports Centre, were a middle-aged couple and a mother and her three children. She said the council had worked closely with the British Red Cross at the centre.

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