November 18, 1987: Fire at King's Cross Underground station leaves 31 dead

The worst fire in the history of the London Underground killed 31 people and injured more than 100 when a stray match started a blaze beneath a wooden escalator.

On November 18, 1987, the worst fire in the history of the London Underground killed 31 people and injured at least 100 more at King’s Cross station.

The blaze started beneath a wooden escalator leading from the Piccadilly Line platforms to the mainline station at approximately 7.30pm.

Though relatively small to begin with, the fire’s heat soon ignited any nearby flammable materials, and at around 7.45pm a 600°C ball of fire and smoke exploded up from the escalators into the ticket hall, killing or seriously injuring those who remained there.

Firefighters in the ticket hall at King's Cross Underground station

Many passengers were trapped underground by the blaze, although most were fortunate to be able to escape on the Victoria Line, which was accessible via stairs.

[March 6, 1987: Zeebrugge ferry disaster claims 193 lives]

[July 7, 2005: Suicide bombers kill 52 as terror strikes London rush hour]

More than 150 firefighters tackled the blaze, which was only declared to be fully extinguished at 1.46am the next day. One, Colin Townsley, was killed in the initial blast, while several were hospitalised for exhaustion and smoke inhalation.

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