LONDON – A major fire tore through London's famous Camden market late Saturday, ripping through market stalls and partially consuming an iconic pub, fire officials and witnesses said. There were no reported casualties.
More than 100 firefighters and 20 engines battled the blaze at the sprawling clothes and crafts market, one of the British capital's top shopping and tourist destinations that spreads over more than a dozen city blocks.
London's fire department said it was alerted at 1910 GMT, adding the flames were brought under control more than three hours later. It was unclear how much damage had been done to the market,
Flames shot up around 40 feet, sending huge plumes of smoke billowing as bright red sparks crackled in the night sky.
The fire spread quickly across the market and surrounding buildings, consuming part of the Hawley Arms, a famous pub that has attracted celebrities including singer Amy Winehouse, rocker Peter Doherty and model Kate Moss.
Firefighters concentrated water hoses on the upper stories of the building housing the pub, eventually controlling the flames, Associated Press Television News video showed.
The culturally vibrant Camden area has six open-air and indoor markets, which are popular with tourists and residents, selling everything from handmade soaps to second hand clothing. The market also has dozens of food stalls.
It was unclear what started the fire, but the maze-like markets are packed tightly on weekends when hordes of tourists descend on Camden to snap up T-shirts and jewelry. Some traders have been protesting a proposal to redevelop Stables Market, one of Camden's biggest markets, into two new four-story commercial structures.
The area is also known for its alternative bars and clubs and shops, which are typically packed on weekends.
Hundreds of people poured out into the streets, taking pictures of the inferno as police tried to push the crowds back and set up protective cordons.
Ross Smith, 28, who works for a local tattoo parlor, said the fire reminded him of photographs from the blitz.
"There were 40-foot flames rushing up," he said. "I've never seen a fire spread that fast. It was licking up the buildings."