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London’s Landmark Marconi House in Major Blaze

Marconi HouseThe Marconi House, which is a landmark building positioned at the junction of Aldwych and The Strand in central London, caught fire on Tuesday around 11:06am. The landmark is a 10-storey building and is being converted to contain 86 upmarket flats and a 5-star hotel based on a design by Norman Foster’s architectural firm. It had been closed for 3 years until recently, when maintenance began. According to reports, the blaze started while workers were using welding torches and bunsen burners on the roof, which set the building’s insulation ablaze.

Due to the fire, there were more than 20 appliances and 75 firefighters at the scene to battle for control of the blaze. Officials warned offices nearby to keep their windows closed due to thick plumes of black smoke rising over the capital’s west end, which could be seen miles away. Some nearby buildings, including those for the Australian embassy and BBC, were also put on alert in case they had to be evacuated if the fire spread.

Witnesses told media that the fire seemed to have been caused by workers using bunsen burners, or devices similar to special welding torches, on the roof, where they were burning lead. One of the workers is cited saying that it seemed that the insulation in the roof caught fire, and there was smoke everywhere and everybody was evacuated from the building.

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade (LFB) couldn’t confirm that the burning devices the workers were using started the blaze. However, he said that investigators were going to interview the workers and that the tools were one line of questioning they would be taking. It’s understood that a special ‘rise’ to protect against fires was completed inside the building, which allowed firefighters to get to the roof. The spokesman also said that the blaze covered about 25% of the 100sq/m roof. There was still a lot of smoke when the spokesman talked to reporters, so he advised people in buildings nearby to keep their windows shut.

Although the London Ambulance Service sent 5 specialist hazardous area response teams and paramedics to the scene, there were no reports of people trapped in the building. However, there were reports that one person suffered a minor injury.

Due to the number of appliances and firefighters at the scene, the Marconi House fire caused chaos for travellers in the area. Local traffic and public transport were heavily disrupted following the closure of parts of the Strand, Mall and Waterloo Bridge by Transport for London (TfL), while diversions were put in place. A spokesman said that the blaze appeared to be limited to the roof rather than spread throughout the building. He added that officials did well in evacuating the building and making sure everyone was accounted for.



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