A massive fire is being reported in the Piccadilly/Soho area of Central London as smoke billows over the capital.
The blaze began near Piccadilly Circus and Shaftesbury Avenue, closing the streets in both directions. Dark smoke can be seen over the capital.
At least four fire engines are currently on the scene and pictures show plumes of smoke over the West End. Eyewitnesses claim panic in the area and emergency workers respond to the incident.
One witness described the “scary scenes” as smoke poured out into the streets.
Witnesses have said the smoke appears to be coming from the attraction site of Ripley’s Believe it or Not! The five-story building has been evacuated.
London’s Fire Brigade told Daily Star Online it is a basement fire that may have been caused by an electrical fault. Foul play is not expected at this time, though officials will need to conduct a more thorough investigation.
An LFB spokesperson told the Standard that the brigade was called at 7:19 P.M. local time.
“We were called to an electrical fault in the basement of a five-floor building,” she said. “We have four fire engines at the scene and around 20 fire-fighters and officers.”
Piccadilly Circus is a road junction and public space of London’s West End in the City of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. It opened in 1819.
Piccadilly now links directly to the theaters on Shaftesbury Avenue, as well as the Haymarket, Coventry Street (onwards to Leicester Square) and Glasshouse Street. The Circus is close to major shopping and entertainment areas in the West End. Its status as a major traffic junction has made Piccadilly Circus a busy meeting place and a tourist attraction in its own right. The Circus is particularly known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, as well as the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue, which is popularly, though mistakenly, believed to be of Eros. It is surrounded by several notable buildings, including the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre. Directly underneath the plaza is Piccadilly Circus tube station, part of the London Underground system.