LogoTow2Guides_01

LogoTow2Guides_02

LogoTow2Guides_03

LogoTow2Guides_04

LogoTow2Guides_05

LogoTow2Guides_06

LogoTow2Guides_07

LogoTow2Guides_08

LogoTow2Guides_09

t-spacer

Home
References
Kings Cross

t-spacer

t-spacer

t-spacer

t-spacer

t-spacer

0901_GreenHosting100

t-spacer

t-spacer

t-spacer

t-spacer

t-spacer

LogoTow2Guides_01

LogoTow2Guides_03

LogoTow2Guides_07

LogoTow2Guides_09

News Story

The Kings Cross Underground Station Fire and Death of Colin Townsley
Dateline London 18 November 1987

30 die as tube fire hits King's Crosskings_cross1

Fireman, forensic scientists and doctors are still trying to assess the damage, identify the charred corpses and discover the cause of last night's inferno at King's Cross Underground station in which thirty people died.

The fire started on a wooden escalator and flashed, with searing heat and thick smoke, through the ticket hall. The escalators carried passengers to the heart of the blaze, and death.

One survivor described how trains disembarked passengers onto smoke filled platforms: "A thing, I suppose a person, came stumbling down the stairs, his hair was all burnt off, his head was smoking and his skin blistering. He held his hands in front of him and there was smoke coming off them." Surgeons at University College Hospital said the injuries included some of the worst flash burns they had ever seen. "I think the fact that we have only seven patients is a reflection of the severity of the incident. So few survived to reach hospital," said a doctor.

London Regional Transport (LRT) is strongly denying that its recently privatised cleaning methods are inadequate, allowing flammable fluff, which became soaked in machine oil, to accumulate under the escalator. Staff cuts and inadequate training have also been blamed. It emerged today that no sprinkler system was in operation at King's Cross and that LRT ignored recommendations made in 1984 to install one. Paul Channon, the Transport Secretary has announced a public enquiry into the disaster.

 

The first call received by the fire brigade was to an escalator alight and was at 19:36.

The station was on Euston Fire Station's ground but they were out attending another call, so the first appliance to arrive was from Soho with Clerkenwell and Manchester Square arriving shortly afterwards. The crew from Soho, led by Station Officer Colin Townsley went down into the stations concourse where everything appeared normal. When they got to the top of the Piccadilly line escalator they saw a smallish fire on the escalator about seven metres from the top, the flames were about 1 1/2 metres high without smoke. The station officer then sent his crew back to get their breathing apparatus and a jet.

Sub Officer Bell from Clerkenwell then met up with Station Officer Townsley at the head of the escalator. The Station Officer then decided to send an assistance message requesting four fire engines and Sub O Bell went down one of the unaffected escalators, past the fire to tell members of the public to go back down. The remainder of Clerkenwells' crew arrived in the concourse area with their BA sets on, but not started up, passing the crew from Soho who were on the way out to get their BA sets. Station Officer Townsley then instructed the Leading Fireman from Clerkenwell to send the assistance message.

Whilst talking to Station Officer Townsley, Station Officer Osborne from Manchester Square heard a commotion at the head of the Victoria Line Escalator where he went to investigate. Dense smoke and flames were at ceiling level and were reaching the main concourse. He then descended the Victoria Line escalator to keep people from coming up.

These last events happened very quickly, whilst the Leading Fireman from Clerkenwell was leaving to send the assistance message there was a rapid build up in temperature and smoke. Within seconds the area was in total darkness and the conditions had become unbearable.

ADO Shore arrived at the incident at 19:49, he could not find the officer in charge and quickly realised that the incident was serious, he then sent a further assistance message at 19:53.

Meanwhile the crew from Soho were attempting to enter the subway using a jet and trying to protect themselves with the jet-spray. They eventually entered far enough to find the body of Station Officer Townsley whom they managed to remove to street level.

At 20:00 ADO Shore requested further ambulances and sent an informative message which was then followed by a further assistance message at 2003.

By 20:15 DACO Wilson arrived and was informed that brigade personnel were involved and some were missing and a roll call was being carried out. He then sent a further assistance message at 20:19 "make pumps twenty". It was starting to become clear that the incident was very serious with a number of bodies being found. A message was then relayed to DACO Wilson that three firemen had been removed to hospital (including Station Officer Townsley) and that two fireman were missing, Station Officer Osborne and Sub Officer Bell (both of whom were safe, below the fire on the platform).
kings_cross2
The messages followed on:-

FIRE APPEARS TO BE CONFINED TO ESCALATOR SERVICE PICCADILLY LINE AT SUB
BASEMENT LEVEL. BELIEVED THAT BRIGADE PERSONNEL ARE INVOLVED. IT IS NOT YET
ESTABLISHED WHETHER TRACTION CURRENT NEEDS TO BE CUT OFF. TRAINS SHOULD
BY PASS THIS STATION

UNKNOWN NUMBER OF PERSONS INVOLVED. 8 PERSONS REMOVED SUFFERING
FROM SMOKE INHALATION. BA CREWS MAKING STEADY PROGRESS

MAKE PUMPS THIRTY

AT LEAST 50 PERSONS BELIEVED INVOLVED BA CREWS STILL SEARCHING

FIRE SURROUNDED

THE WHOLE OF A CIRCULAR MAIN CONCOURSE, FIFTY METRES IN DIAMETER SERVING 4
UNDERGROUND LINES AND 1 BRITISH RAIL LINK LINE, VIA 2 PEDESTRIAN TUNNELS,
FROM STREET LEVEL TO CONCOURSE TO PLATFORM LEVEL, DAMAGED BY FIRE. THREE
JETS, BREATHING APPARATUS. ALL PERSONS NOT YET ACCOUNTED FOR. SAME AS ALL
CALLS.

UNKNOWN NUMBER OF PERSONS RESCUED FROM CAUSEWAY AND PLATFORM LEVELS
23 PERSONS INJURED
34 PERSONS APPARENTLY DEAD

ALL PERSONS ACCOUNTED FOR

 

Appliances and crews remained at the scene conducting operations until 18:20 on the 19 November 1987. Six fireman received the Chief Officer's Certificate of Commendation for their actions at the fire, including Station Officer Townsley who received the award posthumously. Fourteen further firemen received the Chief Officer's Letter of Commendation.

The King's Cross tragedy provoked what was to become the longest-running inquiry of its kind in Britain.

The public investigation was conducted by Mr. Desmond Fennell, Queen's Counsel, aided by four expert advisers. The inquiry opened at Central Hall Westminster on 1 February 1988. It closed after hearing 91 days of evidence on 24 June. It was reported to have cost 4m.

LogoTow2Guides_01

LogoTow2Guides_03

LogoTow2Guides_01

LogoTow2Guides_03

Linkaw1

LinkB1w

LogoTow2Guides_07

LogoTow2Guides_09

Brotherton.org.uk SheekyFamily.org.uk StrangewayFamily.org.uk YorkshireHeritage.org.uk

Copyright Free © 2017. All content produced by amateur enthusiasts on an as is basis.