LONDON – Firefighters dug through the wreckage of London's famed Camden market Sunday trying to determine what sparked a massive blaze that damaged the market and area buildings.
It took 100 firefighters three hours to put out the fire Saturday night. There were no casualties, but the blaze damaged clothing and craft market stalls and nearby buildings.
The Hawley Arms, a pub popular with celebrities such as singer Amy Winehouse, rocker Pete Doherty and model Kate Moss, was among the casualties.
"In a word, I'm devastated," Ruth Charles-Ridler, the pub's landlady, said as she arrived at the scene to assess the damage Sunday morning. "Everyone I've spoken to is in complete shock.
"This was a good community pub where everybody knew everybody else," she said. "It is a great loss to Camden Town."
The bustling commercial and residential area in north London, with its open markets and a scenic canal, is one of the British capital's top shopping and tourist destinations.
"It's quite a heavy blow" to Camden's many small shops, said local business owner Steve Norris.
Sunday is traditionally the busiest day of the week for shoppers at Camden Town's shops, cafes, pubs and markets.
Police kept the burned-out area closed off with a cordon on Sunday morning but allowed tourists and shoppers to use a large part of the unaffected Camden High Street commercial area.
Firefighters said it was too early to say what caused the disaster.
About 40 firefighters were working their way through the remaining "hot spots" toward the center of the blaze, said senior firefighter Guy Foster. Their progress was hampered by concerns that some buildings were structurally unsafe.
Some roads, sidewalks, subway and train lines remained closed Sunday.
Among the tourists hoping to shop at Camden Market was Marie-Francoise Tagnais, who was visiting the area for the first time.
"I'm going back to France today and I wanted to see this market, which is famous in London," she said. "So I am disappointed."