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South east London : Museum and Library in Walworth on Fire

LONDON – Nearly 100 firefighters used aerial platforms to tackle a major fire at a building in Walworth, south east London.

The blaze ripped through a building on Walworth Road, Walworth, shortly after 12.30pm. London Fire Brigade said 15 fire engines, with 97 firefighters, were at the scene. There are currently no indications of how the fire started and no injuries have been reported, a fire brigade spokesman added.

Fire
Smoke can be seen billowing from the roof of the building. Pic: Gary Zelnis

The building houses Newington Library, a museum of Southwark’s history and a one-stop shop for residents to access council services.

Leader of the council Peter John said: “Whilst our first concern is for the safety of residents and our staff, we are also worried about possible damage to the museum’s collection.

“It does not appear at this time that surrounding buildings or any residential properties have been affected, but we will continue to monitor the situation very closely and continue to assist the emergency services where we can.”

Fire at library in Southwark, south east London
The building houses a library and a museum of Southwark’s history

A fire service spokesman said the whole of the roof of the library and museum was ablaze.

Station Manager Peter Critchell said: “Flames are coming through the roof and there is thick grey smoke billowing up.

“Firefighters are still working hard at the scene to try and bring the blaze under control.

“We now have water jets attacking the fire from the four corners of the building. We evacuated 30 people from inside the museum and firefighters will be making efforts to salvage as many of the artefacts as possible.”

Onlookers were kept back by a cordon as firefighters battled the flames using aerial platforms.

Peter Critchell, a spokesman for London Fire Brigade, said: “At the moment the roof has been severely damaged but there will be more inspections needed to see what damage there is inside the building once it is safe for us to get inside.”

Richard Rees, a 62-year-old who works in the community, said parts of the building were listed.

He said: “It’s a listed building, it was one of the very few treasured buildings in the community. It took a long time to get it listed and it is a very sad day for us.”


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