Firefighters have spent more than four hours tackling a huge blaze at an east London shopping centre, with reports of extensive damage to the complex.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) said they were called at around 7.40am on Monday to The Mall on Selborne Walk in Walthamstow, with more than 150 firefighters and 25 engines involved.
The LFB said that the fire was under control as of 12.18pm, but firefighters would “remain on scene damping down throughout the afternoon”.
“Part of the roof of the two-storey building was alight,” the brigade added. “The cause of the fire is under investigation.”
The London Ambulance Service said one woman has been taken to hospital, with Waltham Forest Police tweeting that the blaze was a “major incident”.
Speaking to PA, Labour MP Stella Creasy said the confirmation that the fire had been brought under control was a relief.
“There has been hundreds of firefighters on scene, and it looks like the damage is pretty extensive,” she said.
Officers are dealing with a major incident on Selborne Road E17. Road closures are in place. Please avoid the area and The Mall E17.
— Waltham Forest MPS | North East BCU (@MPSWForest) July 22, 2019
Praising the “massive effort” between the local council, LFB, the police, ambulance service and Transport for London, Ms Creasy said buses which usually stop at the station neighbouring The Mall had been diverted, with the overground and tubes continuing to run.
“We have to now see what the damage now is… you could see that the roof had gone on big chunks of it, even from a distance – so that doesn’t bode well,” Ms Creasy added.
She said her concerns are now about what the blaze and subsequent damage will do to the local economy, and how her priority is to try and protect jobs and people from the impact.
Some of the businesses based inside the building includes Clarks, Asda, Boots, The Body Shop, River Island, Lidl, Waterstones and TK Maxx.
“I am putting out a plea to all those big retailers to try to please work with us and try and help those people (local workers) so that they aren’t the people affected by this fire,” Ms Creasy said.
Images and videos posted on social media of the scene showed smoke billowing into the air and flames lapping part of the roof.
Ahead of the flames being brought under control, Alex de Lange told PA: “There’s massive amounts of black smoke billowing from The Mall.
“There’s a helicopter and lots of fire engines and sounds like some explosions too. The bus station has been evacuated.”
Elly Gresham-Scott said that as she passed the scene at around 8.25am the “air was hazy” with “quite large” ash particles floating in the air.
Freddie Joyce said that there had been “massive high flames spreading at high speed”, adding how it appeared that the firefighters were at one point “struggling to keep it under control”.