LONDON — More than 100 firefighters were sent Wednesday to tackle a blaze at a luxury hotel in London that produced thick black smoke visible for miles. London Fire Brigade said it was called just before 4 p.m. to the 12-story Mandarin Oriental Hotel, an ornate building near Hyde Park that opened as a hotel in 1902 and recently underwent extensive renovations.
The fire broke out after the completion of “the most extensive restoration in its 115-year history,” BBC News reports.
Smoke from the fire could be seen for miles. Penelope Evans, 50, from Battersea, south London, was at the luxury department store Harrods when she noticed thick smoke while leaving.
“I saw all this black smoke coming from the sky, it was covering everything and the smell was horrendous,” she said, according to the BBC.
“It was like people were in shock, everyone immediately just started leaving the street and the area,” she said.
“After Grenfell, I feel like people are a lot more on edge about these things, people just wanted to get out,” she added.
Less than an hour after the London Fire Brigade was called to the scene, the amount of smoke billowing from the hotel’s roof had been greatly reduced.
The major road in front of the hotel was closed, causing rush-hour traffic chaos in that part of London.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known and there were no immediate reports of injuries.
“As the situation is still unfolding, we have no further details to share at this time, but will provide an update soon,” the hotel said.
Writer Juno Dawson tweeted: “Well that was drama. The Mandarin Oriental is literally on fire. Evacuated mid photoshoot. Hope everyone is ok. It was the construction site on the roof that seemed to be on fire.”
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