Bystanders watched in disbelief as a large fire ripped through the Battersea Arts Centre this afternoon. The blaze began at the Grade II listed building just after 4.15pm today, the London Fire Brigade said. With more than 80 firefighters sent to tackle the flames at the south London cultural centre, which is currently undergoing a multi-million pound renovation.
Sharing a picture of blaze on Twitter, Richard Dufty, the Arts Centre’s senior producer, tweeted: “Terrible news. @battersea_arts is on fire. The Grand Hall roof.”
He continued: “Everyone @battersea_arts is ok. But still fighting fire. A lot of us in estate agent calling audience. Grand hall looks completely destroyed.” A spokesman for Battersea Arts Centre said everyone was safely evacuated from the building when the fire broke out
Duffy added that all performances at the centre this evening had subsequently been cancelled. In a series on tweets, he stated: “There is a fire in our building. Everyone is out safe and the fire brigade are working hard to get the fire under control. We’ll update you.
“We will not be running any performances this evening. If you’ve bought tickets for any show we’ll be in contact about refunds or exchanges.” He added: “Thank you to everyone for the kind words & well wishes. Everyone is out. Everyone is safe. We will not be running any performances this evening and we have also cancelled the performance of Missing tomorrow evening.”
Witnesses added that people at the scene were crying and visibly upset, as the tower at the top of the Arts Centre collapsed after being consumed in the flames. One Twitter user added: “Tower on the top of Battersea Arts Centre has just collapsed. People in tears. Police moving people back”.
Picture: Courtesy of Katie Powell