LIVE: Explosion at Croydon Police station
11:58am Tuesday 20th March 2012 in News
Fire and ambulance crews have been called to Croydon Police Station after an explosion.
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19:00: Police have officially confirmed the explosion at Croydon police station happened in its firing range in the basement.
In a statement, the police said the firing range had recently been decommissioned to allow for refurbishment and was not due to reopen until May.
Police have confirmed no firearms or live ammo were present in the range.
The contractor taken by air ambulance to Chelmsford is described as being in a serious condition.
Two of those taken to Croydon University Hospital for smoke inhalation have since been discharged.
The Health and Safety Executive are continuing their investigation.
18:30: Some of the witnesses inside the police cordon have spoken about seeing the events unfold outside their window.
Shirley Alborough works for Owadally and King accountants in Park Lane.
She said: "We hear the sirens all the time but this time we heard a lot more. When we heard the fire engines their sirens are a lot louder.
"We saw lots of fire engines and ambulances and all the people from the police station were up the end of the road [having been evacuated].
"Paramedics were working on the man outside the police station and then the air ambulance came and landed on the roof.
"We did not hear anything [of the explosion] and could not see any smoke or fire.
"Nobody from the police came to tell us to evacuate so we stayed here.
"We were not that worried."
Steven Keable, a 33-year-old who is also based in Park Lane for Cruse and Burke, took photos on his iPad after seeing the events unfold.
He said: "I was in a meeting room and we were just finishing the meeting when I saw lots of action outside.
"I went upstairs and looked out of the window and started taking pictures.
"I could see the guy being treated by paramedics."
17.30: Police station could be fully operational for tonight's night shift, borough commander said.
17.26: At press conference, Croydon Borough Commander said his "thoughts and wishes are with those that have been injured".
17.03: VINCI Construction UK, the contractors working at the police station, have released this statement regarding the incident in Croydon:
"VINCI Construction UK is gravely concerned about the welfare and safety of the construction workers and others affected by this incident and has been working with all emergency services throughout the day to secure the scene of the incident.
"We are working with the HSE in their ongoing investigation to understand the cause of the explosion."
16.21: Man taken to burns hospital in Chelmsford is in a serious but stable condition, Met Police said.
15.37: Essential staff have moved back into Croydon Police station.
14.34: UPDATE FROM OUTSIDE CROYDON POLICE STATION:
Chief Inspector Caroline Trevithick has confirmed the explosion is believed to have taken place in the basement of the police station where contractors are believed to have been working on a firing range.
A neighbouring armoury had been decommissioned while contracting work was taking place.
Of the seven injured, four are contractors, two are civilian staff attached to the station and one is an officer. Al three burns injuries were sustained by contractors.
Chief Inspector Trevithick said they believed there was no live ammunition in the basement and they are unsure how the explosion was triggered.
There were 14 people in police custody at the time of the explosion. They have been securely moved to South Norwood station, while more than 100 staff were evacuated.
The police are waiting to hand the issue over to the Health and Safety Executive before returning to the building.
Contractors were scheduled to begin work on the firing range today. The armoury was decommissioned to allow for refurbishment work.
14.09: A Croydon Council spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with the injured and we are offering any assistance we can."
14.06: Here's the official statement from the London Ambulance Service:
“We were called just before 11:30am and sent London's Air Ambulance, three ambulance crews, a duty officer, a single responder in a car and our hazardous area response team (HART) to the scene.
“Our staff have treated seven patients in total.
“One patient – a man – has been flown to Broomfield Hospital by air ambulance, suffering from serious burns.
“One man has been taken to St George’s Hospital with burns to his arms and face.
“A man with minor burns and a woman and man suffering from smoke inhalation were taken to Croydon University Hospital.
“Two further patients were assessed at the scene but did not need hospital treatment.”
14.02: The official line from the Met is that seven people received injuries in the incident, five of which were taken to hospital.
At least some of those injured are understood to be contractors carrying out building work at the premises.
14.01: Josanne, 25, who lives in nearby Beech House Road, said: "I saw them bringing out a man wearing an oxygen mask on a stretcher. He was conscious with his eyes open. It had just happened. I did not hear the alarm but heard sirens."
13.55: Update from London Fire Brigade station manager Tej Ajimal, who attended the incident, said: "Crews worked hard to bring the fire under control and have managed to contain it to the basement area and stop it from spreading to the rest of the police station.
"The brigade was called at 11.28am. Fire crews from Woodside, Croydon, Norbury, Addington, Tooting, Wallington and Brixton fire stations are attending the scene.
"The cause of the fire is not known at this stage."
13.53: The London Ambulance Service on Twitter: "A fifth patient has now been taken to hospital with smoke inhalation after the incident in Croydon - two more were assessed at the scene."
13.45: From Peter Truman on the scene in Croydon:
Residents in nearby Beech Road are being told to stay put. One resident said he told his wife about the incident by phone after he was refused access at the cordon and she wondered where he had gone. He said she was very confused and had no idea such drama was unfolding outside.
Another landlord, who homes 19 residents down the road, said there had been no call to evacuate the buildings and everyone is staying put.
The latest video from our photographer on the scene at Croydon police station:
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13.11: From Croydon police on Twitter: "We would like to reiterate though that we’re still operational despite the incident at Croydon police station."
13.08: Eyewitness, student Molly Tebbutt, said: "I live on this road and thought, at first, that all the people outside were due to a routine fire alarm test.
"However, more and more police vans arrived, the road was cordoned off and then a helicopter appeared.
"The works have been going on a while hence the scaffolding.
"I didn't know what had happened until a neighbour arrived home and was refused entry to the road by car."
Picture by Sandeep Shetty
12.52: From Croydon Guardian reporter Peter Truman on the scene:
Croydon Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Dave Musker, is at the scene co-ordinating his team.
There are at least 20 emergency vehicles surrounding the station.
A group of about 15 firefighters have jut walked past and are about to enter the building. They are dressed in masks and have oxygen tanks.
Large groups are gathering at the cordons including several officers who have been evacuated from the building.
Video from the scene by Nicky
12.48: A spokeswoman for London’s Air Ambulance has confirmed a male has been airlifted to the burns unit at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.
Two other adults have been taken to Croydon University Hospital and one has been taken to St George’s Hospital in Tooting.
12.46: Police confirm the four injuries are to builders working on the site.
12.40: Police have said the incident is not believed to be terrorism related and that investigations are underway.
One of those injured has been taken to hospital by air ambulance, one is in a stable condition and two are suffering from smoke inhalation.
The air ambulance has taken off from the roof.
Picture by James Hillam
12.36: It has been confirmed on the scene that four people have been injured at Croydon police station.
12.34: The Croydon police station front counter only reopened to the public on Sunday after six days of planned maintenance and works were carried out.
12.33: London Fire Brigade tweet: "We've now got ten fire engines and around 50 firefighters at the scene of the Croydon Police Station fire."
12.25: Witness Celia Roberts walked past the incident shortly after noon.
She said: "There are ambulance sirens going off everywhere. There are lots of fire engines and police running around outside.
"No-one appears to know what is happening."
She confirmed she had seen a helicopter land on the roof.
12.21: Park Lane southbound and Friends Road closed near Croydon police station as 30 firefighters deal with the incident.
12.15: Police have confirmed an explosion took place at Croydon police station this morning, leaving two injured.
A statement said: "About 11.25am this morning, an explosion occurred in the basement of Croydon police station.
"Enquiries are underway to establish the cause of the explosion. Both the fire brigade and ambulance are on scene at the moment.
"We are aware of two people who have received injuries, awaiting an update on their condition.
"Croydon Police Station has been evacuated, cordons remain in place round the area."
12.12: A statement from the London Fire Brigade has been released.
It said: "Four fire engines and around 20 firefighters have been called to reports of a fire at Croydon Police Station on Park Lane.
"The fire is believed to be in the police station’s basement.
"The Brigade was called at 11.28am.
"Fire crews from Woodside, Croydon and Norbury fire stations are attending the scene.
"The cause of the fire is not known at this stage."
12.07: Eyewitnesses have told the Croydon Guardian there are three fire crews and four ambulances at the scene.
Roads surrounding the station are also understood to have been cordoned off.
11.50: It is not yet known what has happened at the Park Lane central police station but early reports suggest there may have been some kind of explosion.
An air ambulance has been called and has landed on the roof the police station. There has been no indication if anyone has been injured.
London Fire Brigade tweeted: "We have been called to reports of a fire at Croydon Police Station on Park Lane. Part of the basement is alight."
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The location of Croydon police station (from Google street map)