Piccadilly Circus closed after blast outside Bafta headquarters

Fire crews were called to attend the scene at 11pm on Wednesday

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The Independent Online

Piccadilly Circus in central London was closed overnight after an explosion which resulted in a lorry catching fire outside of the Bafta headquarters.

Metropolitan Police officers and London Fire Brigade (LFB) attended the scene at the Piccadilly junction with Sackville Street just before 11pm yesterday following a fire that may have been caused by an electrical fault beneath a manhole cover.

The fire was brought under control and a spokeswoman for LFB said crews had a water jet at the scene as they awaited the arrival of the electrical authorities.

A spokeswoman for LFB said: "A manhole cover had exploded and spread to a nearby parked van. Crews managed to tow the vehicle away from the area using a long line which prevented further damage to the vehicle. Nearby buildings were evacuated as a precaution but there were no injuries.

"The cause of the fire is being investigated but at this stage is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault beneath the manhole cover."

There were no reported injuries and no arrests. The road was re-opened shortly before 4am, a spokesperson for the Met said.

Witness Jon Hornbuckle tweeted to say there had been numerous explosions and thick black smoke.

"That was scary, I was 10 steps away and then BANG," he wrote. He told the Evening Standard: "There was one loud explosion that sent flames about eight feet high. Then the fire died down and white smoke started coming out of the ground. People panicked and ran away.”

A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said: “Police are working closely with London Fire Brigade to establish the cause of the fire. At this early stage, the fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault beneath a manhole cover.”

Cllr Ed Argar, Westminster City Council cabinet member for city management, transport and infrastructure, said:“We are very concerned by this incident, and other similar incidents in recent months.

Thankfully on this occasion no-one was hurt, and the council has contacted UK Power Networks to ensure a thorough investigation is carried out."