London Fire Brigade

Ceiling collapse at Soho theatre

19 December 2013

The London Fire Brigade was called at 2014 yesterday evening to reports of a collapsed ceiling at a theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in Soho.

Eight fire engines and specialist rescue vehicles attended the incident and over 50 firefighters worked at the scene with colleagues from the Met Police and London Ambulance Service. Fire engines came from Kensington, Soho, Westminster, Dowgate, Southwark, Knightsbridge, Battersea, Lambeth, and Euston stations. Fire rescue units came from Battersea, East Ham, Edmonton, and Chelsea fire stations.

Kingsland Station Manager Nick Harding, who attended the theatre incident, said:

“We believe around 720 people were in the theatre at the time. A section of the theatre’s ceiling collapsed onto the audience who were watching the show. The ceiling took parts of the balconies down with it.

“Firefighters worked really hard in very difficult conditions and I’d like to pay tribute to them. They rescued people from the theatre, made the area safe and then helped ambulance crews with the injured.

“Specialist urban search and rescue crews were also called to the scene to make sure no one was trapped. Fortunately all those who were trapped were rescued and treated for injuries or taken to hospital.

"London Ambulance Service treated 76 patients, 58 of whom were taken to hospital to be treated for their injuries. Fifty one of these were walking wounded and seven had more serious injuries. 

“In my time as a fire officer I’ve never seen an incident like this. I imagine lots of people were out enjoying the show in the run-up to Christmas. My thoughts go out to all those affected.”

The Brigade's specialist Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) advisors have offered structural advice and guidance to the theatre.