London Fire Brigade

LFB 150: Camden Market Fire 2008

09 February 2016

In our 150th year anniversary we are looking back at some of our major incidents to celebrate the victories, remember the people and honour the memories since we were formed in 1866.

On a Saturday night 8 years ago today (09 February 2016), huge fires broke out in London’s iconic Camden market.


Twenty fire engines were called and 100 firefighters tackled the fire which ravaged the wooden stalls of the Camden Market. Firefighters cleared a large area around the fire. The firefighters suspected some of the shops contained gas cylinders which can explode when exposed to heat. 

Communication is important

Established in 1975 the market attracts a huge number of visitors to its stalls, shops, bars and restaurants every day. Communicating what was happening was very important to put people’s mind at rest.

Rob McTaggart, our Senior Press Officer, was on duty that Saturday.

“It was first time I had dealt with a serious fire out of hours. As this was a time before wide spread use of social media the only way we communicated information was over the phone and on our website.

“Sky News covered it minute by minute, which fuelled interest in the blaze and soon I was taking calls from America to Australia as the story was picked up worldwide. The operational press liaison officers’ we had at the scene were brilliant and helped us get clear and quick information to hundreds of news networks.”

The iconic Hawley Arms pub, famed for being Amy Winehouse’s regular haunt, was devastated in the flames.

They battled all night keeping Londoners safe

Houses and flats were evacuated as water jets streamed from the aerial ladder platforms on to the 30ft flames. The fire fighters battled to stop the fire spreading to a nearby petrol station and the rest of the market.

By 10 pm the fire was surrounded by firefighters on all sides. It wasn’t until the following morning that the fire was brought under control, after a night of relentlessly hosing down deep seated pockets of fire.

Fire investigators believe the fire was caused by a heater which had been left turned on in a clothes stall and ignited materials in an adjacent stall.