Firefighters search 116-year-old London hotel amid blaze
LONDON (AP) — More than 100 firefighters tackled a blaze at a luxury hotel in central London that produced thick black smoke visible for miles around and required people inside the building to evacuate Wednesday.
London Fire Brigade said it was called to the 12-story Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel just before 4 p.m. (1500 GMT.) Less than an hour later, 20 engines and 120 firefighters were at the scene, and much less smoke was billowing from the top of the hotel.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus searched the structure to see if anyone still was inside, the fire brigade said. The London Ambulance Service said it didn’t handle any injuries.
The cause of the fire was not yet known. It was thought to have spread from a part of the facade that supports vegetation and plants to several floors of the hotel before it was extinguished, the fire brigade said.
One witness said laborers had been working earlier on the roof of the 116-year-old hotel, which recently underwent extensive renovations.
Writer Juno Dawson tweeted: “Well that was drama. The Mandarin Oriental is literally on fire. Evacuated mid photoshoot. Hope everyone is ok. It was the construction site on the roof that seemed to be on fire.”
The 250 hotel employees evacuated to nearby Hyde Park were given bottles of water as they waited for instructions. The fire service said 36 guests also were evacuated.
Firefighters were “working extremely hard in exceptionally hot conditions to bring the fire under control,” Fire Brigade Station Manager Pam Oparaocha said. Crews were expected to remain at the scene overnight, she said.
The road in front of the five-star hotel in London’s ritzy Knightsbridge neighborhood was closed, causing rush-hour traffic chaos in the area.
Parts of the busy Knightsbridge Underground station also were closed as a precaution.
The Mandarin Oriental hotel group said on Twitter that it didn’t have details to share about the fire.
The ornate Edwardian building near Hyde Park opened as a hotel in 1902. It has 181 bedrooms and suites, and is located near Harrods, an iconic department store that was destroyed by fire in 1883 and rebuilt.