"Heroes with grimy faces" - Sir Winston Churchill

"Heroes with grimy faces" - Sir Winston Churchill

February 27, 2008

OXFORD CIRCUS - 1984



On Nov. 23, 1984, a fire at Oxford Circus station - the busiest on London's Underground - trapped almost 1,000 passengers in smoke-filled tunnels for three hours.

The flames started started in a storage room it was later determined, and an investigation cited lax safety and warned: ``Luck has a habit of running out.''

On Nov. 18, 1987 - almost three years to the date - an escalator fire at King's Cross underground station killed 31 people - including a firefighter.

--

BBC REPORT

Almost 1,000 passengers were trapped in smoke-filled tunnels for three hours after a fire at London's busiest underground station, Oxford Circus.

Emergency services arrived at Oxford Circus within minutes of the blaze breaking out.

There were no deaths and only minor injuries. But the damage caused was substantial, and it is expected to be many days before normal service resumes at the station.

The cause of the fire, which started at about 2220 GMT in a tunnel connecting the northbound Bakerloo and Victoria lines, is thought to have been caused by an electrical fault on a train or in tunnel cabling.

Five tube trains - packed with people returning from the West End - were trapped in the fire and had to be driven slowly back to Tottenham Court Road and Green Park stations, where ambulances were waiting.

Fifteen people were taken to the nearby Middlesex Hospital and seven London Transport workers were treated at the scene, but later rejoined the rescue operation.


All were suffering from the effects of the smoke which had filled many miles of the tunnels.

Police officer Karen Tokins was travelling to work when the fire broke out.

"There was thick black smoke pouring down and blocking the escalators - people started to panic when they realised they could not get out," she said.

A fire service spokesman said the blaze had destroyed an empty train, burnt out a crossing point between the Victoria and Bakerloo lines and badly damaged three miles of tunnelling.

"We have been very fortunate to have got away with so few injuries and deaths," he said.