A fire ball blasted out of a building underneath London’s Elephant and Castle train station on Monday afternoon.
Smoke could be seen pouring into the sky from beneath the railway arches at the south London station and up towards large residential tower blocks, as horrified commuters watched on.
Around 100 firefighters are currently on the scene, with reports suggesting four cars near the station initially caught fire in a vehicle repair shop.
One person has been treated by paramedics on the scene but it is unclear if anyone else has been hurt.
The incident, which was first reported to the London Fire Brigade at 1.43pm, has also seen local residents and the station evacuated.
The service said the fire was ‘under control’ just before 4pm. In a statement just before 3.30pm it had said: ‘Fifteen engines and around 100 firefighters have been called to a fire near Elephant and Castle Railway Station.
‘Three commercial units underneath the railway arches are completely alight and six cars and a telephone box are also alight. One man is being treated on the scene by London Ambulance Service crews
People in the area are being urged to keep their windows and doors closed, with the LFB currently unsure of the cause of the fire.
Station Commander James Ryan, who is at the scene, said the station and nearby buildings have been evacuated.
Video appears to show a fire coming from T.R. Autos, a shop based underneath the rail station – which is in a different building to the Tube stop, where Northern Line services are currently not stopping.
National Rail initially said trains would be unable to call at the station until around 2.30pm – but now say delays can be expected until 8pm.
Nicolas Chinardet, 46, who lives nearby in SE1, told Metro.co.uk that black smoke was engulfing the Elephant Central block of flats and said he thought residents may have to be evacuated.
He said: ‘It smells of burnt rubber.
‘I saw a fireball. It must have been massive, like the size of a house.
‘There’s firemen on the platform at the moment.’
Mr Chinardet said he wasn’t aware of any injuries but paramedics are at the scene.
Metro.co.uk’s deputy platform editor, believes she was on the London Underground when the explosion happened.
The conductor announced that the tube wouldn’t be stopping at Elephant and Castle and instead took passengers on to Kennington.
She explained: ‘As I walked you could start to smell smoke and that’s when the police started ushering people back.
‘The smoke just started getting thicker and blacker and kept coming more rapidly.
‘Then there was a bang that was audible.’
Rosy continued: ‘The roundabout was at a complete standstill. There were hundreds of people standing around taking photos and filming.
‘You could see people putting on face masks because the smell of the smoke was getting really strong. I put mine on. It was really starting to get into my mouth and nose.’
Sara Scarpa, 25, lives in nearby apartment building Hurlock Heights and said smoke and the noise of the explosion had reached her window.
‘We opened the window for a sec as you could hear people shouting, and we smelt something very very strong,’ she said.
‘The smoke (was) dying down a little… we heard an explosion and now it started again.’
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: ‘Officers and the London Ambulance Service are supporting London Fire Brigade at the scene.
‘There are significant road closures in place and the public are advised to avoid the area.
‘The incident is not believed to be terror related.’
A restaurant worker close to Elephant and Castle station said she was evacuated after the fire broke out.
Alex Leckie, an assistant manager at Tupi, said: ‘The entire building was evacuated, we began to smell smoke and the store owner went to check, we saw smoke billowing out and what I’m told is the mechanics were on fire, the smoke pillar started enveloping the apartment blocks as well and we kept hearing intermittent bangs.
The 30-year-old continued: ‘The police have indicated it could be some time (until they are allowed back inside). They have repeatedly pushed the crowds back even from the Castle Square Park and cordoned off the roads, there is a very, very heavy presence.
‘At this point emergency crews have everyone well clear of the area.’
The fire has also caused disruption to Thameslink and Southeastern services.
In a tweet, National Rail wrote: ‘A fire next to the track at Elephant & Castle means trains are currently unable to run through this station.
‘Trains between London Blackfriars and Denmark Hill / Herne Hill may be cancelled or delayed. This is expected until approximately 20:00.’