London

Battersea Arts Centre hit by major blaze

Fire Image copyright TWITTER/@MPSLatchmere
Image caption The fire broke out at the arts centre near Clapham Junction in Battersea, south London

A major blaze at Battersea Arts Centre in south London has been brought under control, London Fire Brigade said.

A large cloud of black smoke could be seen billowing across Battersea, after the fire broke out at about 16:15 GMT.

It is believed to have started in the roof of the Grade II listed building, which houses a theatre.

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade said they had had no reports of injuries. The cause of the fire is not currently known.

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Media captionThis video was taken from a train window by a BBC cameraman.

Almost one third of the first and second floors and roof had been damaged, he said.

A statement from the centre said: "If you've bought tickets for any show we'll be in contact about refunds or exchanges."

Supporters of the venue have been tweeting of their distress.

Gary Naylor said: "Very distressing to see what's happening at Battersea Arts Centre - I hope everyone is okay. I've been going there for 30 years on and off."

Artist David Shearing added: "Battersea Arts Centre is such an important organisation, venue and space. Tragic to see this happen to such a wonderful place."

Image copyright @misterspidergod/PA
Image caption The 1893 building was formerly Battersea Town Hall

Some locals could be seen in the street crying as firefighters tackled the flames.

The 1893 building was formerly Battersea Town Hall. Its grand hall has hosted events, including a memorial service for those who died in the Titanic disaster in 1912.

It has been used as a community arts centre since 1974.

Last month, Labour leader Ed Miliband and deputy Harriet Harman used the venue to launch their party's arts policies ahead of the general election.

Mr Miliband tweeted: "Terrible to see photos of Battersea Arts Centre engulfed in flames. I was there in February. Thanks to the firefighters fighting the blaze."

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Crowds watched the burning building from surrounding streets

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