AROUND 300 people were evacuated after a fire broke out at Kiwi House – the official New Zealand supporters base for the London 2012 Olympics.
A gas canister connected to the outside BBQ area exploded early yesterday evening, with witnesses reporting flames as high as two floors at its peak.
No-one was injured, but the popular house near King’s Cross is closed until further notice.
Richard Welch, a London Fire Brigade station manager, said two fire engines and ten firefighters tackled the blaze and quickly brought it control.
“People in the vicinity reported hearing an explosion, which was due to two gas cylinders exploding before firefighters arrived on the scene,” he said.
“Crews have now brought the blaze under control and are cooling a further two gas cylinders down to make them safe.
“Around 300 people were evacuated from nearby buildings and as a precaution we’ve set up a temporary safety cordon of around 50 metres. Fortunately it doesn’t look as though anyone was injured.”
The house, which was largely funded by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, had been attracting large crowds throughout the games.
An official Tweeted soon afterwards: “We’ve had a rather large fire engulf the outdoor bbq area. Everyone is ok. We’re closed till further notice.”
Witnesses said they thought a bomb had gone off.
“There were people screaming and running, literally thought there was a bomb going off, and all we could tell was that people were leaving in a hurry,” Kiwi Luke James told TVNZ.
Brook Johnstone was near the BBQ when the fire started.
“I looked around and the gas bottle had a little flame around it.
“The cook was trying to put it out and the flame just got bigger so I just said ‘Let’s get out of here’.
“We got inside and everyone was evacuated.”
IMAGE: Andrew Scott via Twitter