Fire crews battle Olympic site blaze

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Firefighters were today dealing with a major blaze in a disused bus depot in east London said to be where extensive redevelopment is taking place for the 2012 Olympics.

The fire created a huge pall of smoke over the capital. Scotland Yard does not believe the incident to be terror-related. So far there are no reports of any casualties.

The fire brigade said 15 engines and 75 firefighters were now attending the blaze at the single-storey warehouse in Waterden Road, Hackney Wick, near Stratford following the first call at 12.06pm.

Businesses in the road have been re-located recently to enable preparations for the Games to take place.

The high-speed Channel Tunnel rail link runs nearby.

Network Rail spokesman said the North London rail line had been closed between Dalston and Stratford because of the smoke affecting Hackney Wick station. Passengers were advised to consult national rail inquiries before beginning their journeys.

A police spokesman said, "We've got nothing to suggest that it is anything other than a fire at the moment."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said there were no reports of an explosion. Local police were responding and there had been a large number of 999 calls.

London Ambulance service say there are no reports of any injuries at this stage.

The bright and clear weather conditions meant the plume of smoke from the fire was visible over large areas of London.

Paul Mott, a meteorologist for MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said visibility was generally around 12 to 18 miles (20 to 30km).

He added that the north-westerly wind was "fairly light", meaning that the plume would be blowing south-eastwards.

Shortly before 1pm police evacuated a nearby studio block and print works as black smoke billowed from the fire.

Ruth Ward-Jackson, a 26-year-old print designer, explained how she and her colleagues saw the blaze develop.

She said: "It was huge with a massive amount of black smoke and yellow flames coming out of it.

"We could see a few workers in yellow jackets milling around and at first they didn't seem too much in a hurry to get away."

She said it took quite a while for fire engines to get to the site.

"We were watching it for 15-20 minutes before they arrived," she said.

She added that she believed the engines could have had trouble getting past roads boarded off for accessing the Olympic site.

David Higgins, chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, said: "There will be a full investigation into this fire in a disused warehouse which was being prepared for demolition. Initial indications would suggest that this was an accident rather than arson.

"We are in touch with local residents and are keeping them informed of the situation.

"There has been a first-class response from the emergency services. Meanwhile, work is continuing in the rest of the park."