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Firefighters rushed to the Old Bailey in London after reports of a ‘series of explosions’ and ‘black acrid smoke’ coming from a nearby building.
Around 1500 people were evacuated from the Central Criminal Court and surrounding area on Wednesday morning, with dozens of barristers wearing black gowns and wigs seen lining the street outside.
Defendants were seen being walked out of a side exit and into a waiting prison van. They were escorted by uniformed City of London Police officers.
A spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade confirmed they had been called to the court, where cases have had to be halted for the day, shortly before 11am following an ‘incident involving an electrical substation’.
Crews currently on scene are checking out ‘multiple buildings’ on Warwick Lane.
Witnesses said the Old Bailey was evacuated after lights flickered inside.
Firefighters are at the scene of the incident in central London
Member of the legal profession are seen outside the Old Bailey amid the incident
The Old Bailey had to be evacuated amid the incident
Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters responding to an incident on Warwick Lane
Barristers and other court users were told by security officials that they would not be allowed to go back inside until after safety checks had been carried out as people have been warned to avoid the area.
A Times reporter quoted Judge Mark Lucraft, the most senior judge based at the Old Bailey, as saying it was ‘too early’ to know when cases would be able to resume following the building’s evacuation.
One witness who tweeted video of the incident wrote on X: ‘Series of explosions heard from building next to Old Bailey for about 10 minutes before smoke emerges. Many buildings seem to have suffered power cuts.’
A BBC journalist at the scene tweeted: ‘Black acrid smoke coming from rear of Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey – lights flickered inside before it was evacuated – firefighter says fire in section of building where electrical substation sits.’
There are currently no reports of any injuries.
London Fire Brigade said: ‘Firefighters are currently responding to reports of smoke issuing from a building in Warwick Lane’
The LFB said traffic in the area is likely to be impacted as they respond
The LFB has tweeted: ‘Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters are responding to an incident involving an electrical substation on Warwick Lane, near the rear of the Old Bailey.
‘Traffic in the area is likely to be impacted as we respond.’
Firefighters are working with UK Power Networks to make the scene safe and bring the fire under control.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
MailOnline has contacted the City of London Police for comment.