Derby Assembly Rooms fire: Parts of city closed off as firefighters tackle major blaze


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The Independent Online

A large fire ripped through a car park in Derby this evening, forcing firefighters to close off parts of the city centre amid reports of falling debris.

The blaze, which was said to be producing “large, thick, black plumes of smoke” at its height, started on the top floor of the city’s live venue, the Assembly Rooms.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Anton Du Beke had been due to perform at the venue, but the show was cancelled as fire crews fought to bring the flames under control.

Derbyshire Fire Service cordoned off the area and eyewitnesses suggested that at one stage debris could be seen falling from the multi-storey car park.

Gavin Tomlinson, fire service area commander, said: "The fire spread very, very quickly and it was extremely difficult to deal with as it was not safe to go in and physically put it out." 

Earlier, Derbyshire Police said they had widened the cordon with the danger of vehicles in the car park "exploding".

Pete Meakin, from Derby Live, said performances over the weekend had also been cancelled: "Fortunately we know everyone got out of the Assembly Rooms building and we are now ringing around the audiences to make sure they don't come into the city centre."

Will Hives, 36, who lives nearby, was in a restaurant when he noticed the smoke, and told the BBC: "You couldn't see flames at first, just plumes of black smoke.

"It spread really quickly. Within 10 minutes it was really alight and was sweeping across the whole building."