Fifteen fire engines and 97 firefighters and officers tackled a builders' yard fire on Brodlove Lane in Wapping.
The whole of yard was damaged by fire including a van, building materials and a number of gas cylinders. Two shipping containers containing furniture were also badly damaged by fire.
The fire has spread to an adjacent block of flats of six floors. Part of the ground and first floor were damaged by the blaze. A man was rescued from the fifth floor and 12 people evacuated the remaining flats. There were no reports of any injuries.
Fire crews will be at the scene damping down small pockets of fire throughout night.
The Brigade was called at 1141 and the fire was under control by 1552. Fire crews from Shadwell, Poplar, Dockhead, Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Dowgate, Islington and Homerton, Old Kent Road, Stratford, Lambeth, Plumstead, Peckham, Plaistow and Deptford fire stations are at the scene. The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.