London

Holborn underground fire extinguished

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Media captionThe fire broke out beneath a pavement in Kingsway, Holborn, on Wednesday

An electrical fire in a tunnel beneath a pavement in central London has been put out after more than 36 hours.

Some 5,000 people were evacuated when police declared a major incident in Kingsway in Holborn on Wednesday.

The fire was put out on Good Friday morning but scores of businesses have had to shut their doors for a second day.

About 50 firefighters remain at the scene as engineers continue to work to restore power to 400 customers.

Eight theatres nearby were forced to cancel ten performances.

There had been concerns more shows over the busy bank holiday weekend would not go ahead, but no changes have yet been announced.

Matthew Gardiner, from ticket firm Shows in London, said some venues brought in generators "so the show can go on this evening".

"It's in the theatre's best interests to get these shows up and running as quickly as possible given that it's a bank holiday weekend," he said.

Image copyright London Fire Brigade
Image caption Local road closures are in place but Holborn Tube station is open

He said the firm had received a record number of calls on Thursday morning from people who wanted to rebook.

Those who had missed shows would be entitle to a refund, he said.

Mr Gardiner expressed concerns businesses in the area which benefit from theatregoers' custom might be adversely affected.

Rachel Wicking from Primrose Bakery, which is opposite one of the affected theatres, said she had sent staff home due to the power cuts in the area.

"We're obviously operating at a loss when we should be making the most money of the year," she said.

Some 3,000 customers had originally been without power as a result of the fire, UK Power Networks said, forcing many businesses in the area to close.

A spokeswoman said: "During the night National Grid were able to stop the flow of gas at Kingsway so the fire could be extinguished, enabling us to continue restoring electricity supplies.

Image copyright Mike Wooldridge
Image caption The view from the London Eye on Wednesday night highlighted the area affected by the power cut

"We are working with the emergency services and other agencies to keep affected customers updated.

"The cause of the incident is being investigated, but until utilities can access the tunnel it's impossible to determine."

London Fire Brigade (LFB) station manager Sean Madeley said the fire had been put out on Good Friday morning.

"We're staying at the scene to assist UK Network as they carry out work in the tunnel as a safety precaution," he added.

He said Kingsway was expected to remain closed for the rest of the day, possibly longer, but some streets may be opened to pedestrians sooner.

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