Witnesses recalled seeing a firefighter wearing a white helmet just before the flashover telling passengers to get out. Directed by Jan Klimkowski. [22], A public inquiry into the incident was initiated by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Music magazines at the time (such as Smash Hits) carried adverts to call premium rate phone lines to hear the song, and the money from the phone call would then go to the charity for fire … [35], London Underground were strongly criticised in the report for their attitude to fires underground, underestimating the hazard because no one had died in a fire on the Underground before. Plans to be kept outside stations in locations agreed with the Brigade. The London Fire Brigade said the fire spanned between a ground floor flat and six floors up. At King's Cross there are subsurface platforms for the Metropolitan, Circle, and Hammersmith & City lines. [11] A police constable, Richard Kukielka, found a seriously injured man and tried to evacuate him via the Midland City platforms, but found the way blocked by a locked Bostwick gate until it was unlocked by a passing cleaner. Until then, the Piccadilly line could only be reached via the Victoria line or Midland City platforms, and at peak hours in one direction only. Youtube video: Kings Cross - Seconds from disaster. [38][39], The Fire Precautions (Sub-surface Railway Stations) Regulations 1989 were introduced. Major Connector. [citation needed], Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit discusses how bad corporate culture and inefficient management led to the disaster at King's Cross. Before the King's Cross fire a report produced by the Department of Transport revealed that the Department's railway inspectorate had an establishment of 24 but that five posts were vacant. The publication of the report led to resignations of senior management of both London Underground and London Regional Transport. The blaze was reported on Birkenhead Street in King's Cross today. The blaze, which is thought to have started around 7:25pm, when a lit match fell through a gap on a wooden escalator and set fire to the grease and litter beneath the steps. So how did it start? Most of the fatalities occurred when a flashover engulfed the ticket hall at the top of the escalators (hot air ignited and produced a ball of fire … 18-11-1987", "Tube's only wooden escalator to carry last passengers", "London Underground (Safety Measures) Act 1991", "London Underground (King's Cross) Act 1993", "King's Cross St. Pancras Tube station doubles in size as state-of-the-art ticket hall opens", "Tottenham Court Road station's £500 million revamp completed as entrances open", "King's Cross fire: 'I was screaming in pain, "RMT calls for staffing cuts to be scrapped on 25th anniversary of Kings Cross fire", "King's Cross fire 25th anniversary marked", "King's Cross fire: Victims remembered at wreath-laying service", "King's Cross station - A Safety Accident Case Study", Fire Brigade operations – London Fire Journal. Wooden escalators were gradually replaced with metal escalators on the London Underground. When did fire brigades begin – and why? It was allowed to burn for nine minutes before being extinguished. The King's Cross Fire: Results and analysis from the scale model tests. The thick smoke engulfed the ticket hall, obscuring the exits and hampering rescue efforts. [13] Fourteen London Ambulance Service ambulances ferried the injured to local hospitals, including University College Hospital. [11], Thirty fire crews—over 150 firefighters—were deployed. In 1666, a devastating fire swept through London, destroying 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, The Royal Exchange, Guildhall and St. Paul’s Cathedral. More than 150 firefighters and 30 fire engines were called to a blaze at King's Cross station at on the evening of 18 November 1987. Never miss an exhibition or event with the London Fire Brigade Museum updates newsletter. Staff and police went to investigate and on confirming the fire one of the policemen went to the surface to radio for the fire brigade. [19][20], The ticket hall and platforms for the Metropolitan line were undamaged and reopened next morning; the Victoria line, its escalators only slightly damaged, resumed normal operation on the following Tuesday. The inquiry determined that the fire had started by a lit match being dropped onto the escalator. An RMT banner at the commemorative event at Kings Cross. On that fateful day 31 lives were lost and 100 people were injured. The pop-up buildings that leave a legacy. However, this tragic fire has redefined policy on public transport, and led to changes that keep us all much safer today. [5] The police made the decision to evacuate the station at 19:39, using the Victoria line escalators. On 18 November 1987, at approximately 19:30, a fire started at King's Cross St Pancras tube station, a major interchange on the London Underground. Bus bomber stopped for a Big Mac before killing started. Staff were complacent because there had never been a fatal fire on the Underground, and had been given little or no training to deal with fires or evacuation. [6] A few minutes later the fire brigade arrived and several firemen went down to the escalator to assess the fire. Coronavirus: are you caring for someone vulnerable? 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On 18 November 1987, a fire ripped through the Upper Booking Hall at King’s Cross Underground station. [34] When the wooden treads of the escalator flashed over, the size of the fire increased dramatically and a sustained jet of flame was discharged from the escalator tunnel into the model ticket hall. 1987: King's Cross station fire 'kills 27' At least 27 people have died after a fire at King's Cross station in central London. [47], The fire also led to improvement in firefighters' equipment: yellow plastic leggings that melted in the heat and rubber gloves that limited movement were replaced with more effective clothing. The Kings Cross fire was another in a sad list of disasters from the Ronan Point Collapse in 1968 when four died and 17 were injured when an entire corner of a new block of flats in Newham, east London, collapsed. [29] A test was conducted where lit matches were dropped on the escalator to see if ignition would occur. One man was assisted from the flat by a member of the public before fire crews arrived. The ticket hall for the three tube lines was reopened in stages over four weeks. [26] The police decided that the fire had not been started deliberately, as there was no evidence that an accelerant had been used and access to the site of the fire was difficult. [24], Smoking on Underground trains was banned in July 1984, over 3 years before the fire. [48], Six firemen received Certificates of Commendation for their actions at the fire, including Station Officer Townsley who was given the award posthumously. The heat from the fire was so intense that firefighters tackling the blaze had to use their hoses to spray the backs of colleagues in a bid to keep the temperature bearable for brief period. King's Cross Fire The Reunion Sue MacGregor gathers together five people who were profoundly affected by the Kings Cross Underground fire, … Kings Cross and Euston were emptied after two separate fire alerts were sounded as the train passed through on the Victoria Line. Plot A lighted match is dropped by a smoker down a gap in the wooden escalator at the King's Cross tube station. [36] Staff were expected to send for the Fire Brigade only if the fire was out of control, dealing with it themselves if possible. This article is more than 2 years old. It was written by Desmond Fennell (OBE QC). Investigators found charred wood in eight places on a section of skirting on an escalator and matches in the running track,[27] showing that similar fires had started before but had burnt themselves out without spreading. A report was published on the inquiry, leading to resignations of senior management in both London Underground and London Regional Transport and to the introduction of new fire safety regulations. Kings Cross Station, London, UK. On 18 November 1987, at approximately 19:30, a fire broke out at King's Cross St. Pancas tube station, a major interchange on the London Underground. How did the King's Cross fire begin? Is firefighting the right career for you? Next Saturday, 18 November, marks the 30th anniversary of the Kings Cross fire. [18], An initially unidentified man, commonly known as "Michael" or "Body 115" after its mortuary tag, was identified on 22 January 2004, when forensic evidence confirmed he was 73-year-old Alexander Fallon of Falkirk, Scotland. Thanks for requesting a visit - holding details. Crews found the body of Station Officer Townsley beside the badly burned body of a passenger at the steps leading up to the Pancras Road entrance of the station. [50], Soon after the fire a commemoration service was held at St Pancras Church. Improvement to the Brigade's radio communications between firefighters below ground. The end result matched the eyewitness accounts of the fire, but the simulation's depiction of the fire burning parallel to the 30° slope of the escalator was thought by some to be unlikely and it was suspected that the programming might be faulty. How the final King’s Cross fire victim was identified. At Soho Fire Station, Station Officer Colin Townsley's space remains empty in memory of the fallen firefighter – and the members of the public who lost their lives that terrible day. [15], Thirty-one people died[16] and 100 people were taken to hospital, 19 with serious injuries. King's Cross Fire is the 30th episode of Seconds from Disaster testing how did a fire killed people meters away. When someone notices the glowing fire under the escalator, the person … [30], This test confirmed the initial eyewitness reports up to that point, but four expert witnesses could not agree as to how the small fire flashed over, with some concern that the paint used on the ceiling had contributed to the fire. The fire … Wooden panelling was to be removed from escalators, heat detectors and sprinklers were to be fitted beneath escalators, and the radio communication system and station staff emergency training were to be improved. The time shown by the clock at the top of the escalator read 7:45pm – the exact moment when the flames burnt through its wiring. There was just one … Two months after the release of Actually, 31 people were killed in the King's Cross fire, which some [who?] It is believed that Townsley spotted the passenger in difficulty and stopped to help her. There was water fog equipment, but staff had not been trained in its use. 16 years of detective work and one surgical clip helped BTP detectives discover the identity of the body of Alexander Fallon: the last King's Cross fire victim to be identified. This sudden transition in intensity, and the spout of fire, was due to the previously unknown trench effect, discovered by the computer simulation of the fire, and confirmed in two scale model tests. London Bridge was upgraded in conjunction with the Jubilee Line Extension project, which opened in 1999,[45] King's Cross St Pancras was substantially upgraded and expanded as a component of the High Speed 1 project in the late 2000s,[44][46] and Tottenham Court Road was expanded as part of the Crossrail project in the mid 2010s. {On the lower plaque: a list of 30 names in alphabetical sequence, followed by:} An unidentified man Later identified as Alexander Williamson Fallon {For the full list … The fire was under control at 9:48pm and was out at 01:46am on 19 November. Fire safety and Coronavirus - your lockdown to-do list, Supporting Fire Cadets – sponsors and partners. As well as the mainline railway stations above ground and subsurface platforms for the Metropolitan lines, there were platforms deeper underground for the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines. [49] Townsley was also posthumously awarded the George Medal. The flames heated the framework and decking of the Piccadilly line escalator, pre-heating the rest of the wooden staircase before bursting into flames. The inquiry opened at Central Hall, Westminster on 1 February 1988 and closed on 24 June, after hearing 91 days of evidence. The trench effect and eruptive wildfires: lessons from the King’s Cross Underground disaster. PC Stephen Hanson, British Transport Police officer – speaking at the subsequent inquiry. Kings Cross has been saved as your Local News location Close + 5 miles + 10 miles + 20 miles + 30 miles. Why do children set fires and signs to watch out for. [4] The fire was beneath the escalator, and it was impossible to reach it to use a fire extinguisher. All the vacancies were for inspectors responsible for health and safety on railway premises. 4), and also towards the slope of the channel, effectively reducing the height … When was the King's Cross fire? [17] The three escalators for the Piccadilly line had to be completely replaced, the new ones being commissioned on 27 February 1989, more than 16 months after the fire. [21], Access to the Northern line platforms was indirect, its escalators connecting with the Piccadilly line. Increase your radius to see more recent local stories. [25] The inquiry found that the fire was most probably caused by a traveller discarding a burning match that fell down the side of the moving staircase on to the running track of the escalator. What is the Juvenile Firesetters Intervention Scheme? [14] The fire was declared out at 01:46 the following morning. King’s Cross St. Pancras Tube station is served by more lines than any other Underground station. [8], At 19:45 there was a flashover and a jet of flames shot up the escalator shaft, filling the ticket hall with intense heat and thick black smoke,[9] killing or seriously injuring most of the people still in the ticket hall. Part of a ground floor flat and the reception area of a six-storey block of flats were damaged by the fire. 18th November 2012. The former firefighter was one of the first on the scene at the devastating Kings Cross fire, in which 31 people died and 100 were injured. The Kings Cross fire of 1987 is commemorated at the station where 31 people lost their lives 25 years ago. The blaze cracked concrete, stripped tiles from the walls and caused molten plastic to drip from the ceiling. The conclusion was that this newly discovered trench effect had caused the fire to flashover at 19:45. Download this stock image: King's Cross Fire. [42] Consequently, Parliamentary bills were tabled to permit London Underground to improve and expand the busiest and most congested stations, such as London Bridge, Tottenham Court Road, Holborn and King's Cross St Pancras. [33] The metal sides of the escalator served to contain the flames and direct the temperature ahead of the fire. The King’s Cross Underground fire was an ap palling disaster in which 31 people lost their lives. The fire was beneath the escalator and impossible to get close enough to use a fire … The Fire Leaves a Mystery. Buried in an unmarked grave, the charred body, which resembled a victim of Pompeii; crouched down and with their arms drawn in, was simply known by the tag which had … Wooden escalators were gradually replaced, some remaining into the early 2000s (those at Wanstead were replaced in 2003 and at Marylebone in 2004[40]) and as of 2014 the entire London Underground was operating on metal escalators, after the last wooden escalator at Greenford on the Central line was decommissioned on 10 March 2014. A review of the Brigade's Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). A one-off documentary - The King's Cross Fire: 6 Hours That Shocked Britain - will air this Thursday (November 16) at 9pm on Channel 5.