Elephant and Castle ‘fireball’ was caused by an electrical fault say London Fire Brigade

A blaze that left six people injured close to Elephant and Castle station last week was accidental, say the London Fire Brigade.

The ‘huge fireball’ that erupted in the railway arches close to the station is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault within a car in a spray booth.

Footage of the explosion at T.R. Autos on Elephant Road spread across social media as a huge plume of black smoke could be seen above South London on Monday.

“I could see the smoke from my flat and I heard the explosions, there were sirens everywhere,” said Junior Mayhew, 59, who lives on the 17th floor of Albert Barnes House, just yards away from where the explosion happened.

Junior Mayhew

Mr Mayhew was working from home, as a document controller, when police officers “banged” on his door and told him to “evacuate now.”

“As my friend and I were going down the stairs there was a woman screaming and begging for help,” he said.

“I told her we had to leave now but she was very distressed. I managed to bring her downstairs and I explained the fire was not in our building but obviously she could smell all the smoke.

“The police were smashing in the doors of flats that hadn’t been evacuated to make sure everyone got out.”

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said three commercial units were alight along with six cars and a telephone box.

Six people, including a police officer, were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, with one being taken to hospital.

Janet Yatak, 65, was heading home when she witnessed the smoke billowing out of the arches. “I was coming back to the square and there was thick, black smoke rising up,” she said.

“There were already police there and other emergency services and then I saw flames rising out of the garage.

“I heard around five explosions, nothing big, just small ones like popping, I think this was after the big explosion.

“The smoke was horrendous, and the police were screaming at us to move back.

“I just wanted to go home but everything was cordoned off and we had to wait until the fire was under control.”

Photo by Junior Mayhew

Around 600 residents from the surrounding tower blocks were all evacuated with many having to wait outside for over four hours as the emergency services battled to get the fire under control.

Emelie Hellgren, 32, of Raglan House, said: “We saw a lot of smoke outside our balcony, coming out from underneath the railway tracks, and then minutes later the police banged on our door telling us to evacuate.”

23-year-old Archie Parker, who lives in Mawes House, “knew something wasn’t right” when he saw from his window that people from his neighbouring block were being ushered outside.

“I grabbed my keys and my phone and left, but it was quite frustrating that we were left until last,” he added.

Fire crews from Old Kent Road, Lambeth, Soho, Whitechapel and surrounding fire stations attended the scene and the fire was eventually under control at around 6pm.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has said his thoughts are with those affected by the blaze but praised the emergency services, who he said had acted quickly to ensure residents were safely evacuated.

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