London News & Search
Up to 500 people were forced to leave shops and homes as up to 72 firefighters tackled a huge blaze in north London.
Emergency services raced to the scene in Burnt Oak, Edgware after dozens of 999 calls from witnesses.
Images and video footage showed huge plumes of smoke rising from the fire at a workshop in Watling Avenue.
Half a single storey workshop at the back of a parade of shops with flats above was alight, London Fire Brigade said.
Burnt Oak Tube station was closed and Watling Avenue sealed off as emergency services dealt with the fire.
Witnesses said the entire parade of shops and flats was evacuated over fears gas cylinders at the site of the fire could explode.
The brigade confirmed a hazard zone had been put in place as cylinders were believed to be involved in the incident.
A photo posted by local borough police officers showed what appeared to be a car at the workshop engulfed in flames.
Mark Cording, 31, who lives in Burnt Oak, said he was getting his haircut when a little boy came running into the barbers saying there was a fire.
“I came out and saw and I saw big, black plumes of smoke filling the streets. It was mayhem, very mad.
“We kept getting moved back by the police. I heard a small explosion, a pop so, I think that’s why the police were concerned with getting everyone back as quick as they could.
“Some people were walking calmly, some of the kids were running.”
Mr Odling said emergency crews were still at the scene and people waiting to return to their shops and homes at about 6.30pm.
He added: “The smoke seems to have gone now, I think it’s calming down but the fire crews are still here and the residents are still out on the streets.”
LFB received the first of 45 999 calls from members of the public at about 3.40pm.
Station Manager Sean Madeley, who was at the scene, said: “The fire is in the workshop behind a shop and flats.
“Gas cylinders are believed to be involved in the incident.
“As a result a hazard zone has been set up as cylinders can explode when exposed to heat.
“The whole of Watling Avenue has been closed. Please avoid the area if possible.”
Fire crews from Stanmore, West Hampstead, Finchley, Hendon, Wembley and Mill Hill fire stations were attending.
The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.
London News & Search