Firefighters continue to dampen down 'pockets of fire' after a blaze at the derelict maternity ward at Queen Mary's Hospital last night (Aug 18).

At its peak, nearly 100 firefighters fought the fire at Frognal Avenue, Sidcup,  - in 'tragic' scenes which drew local people, many of whom were born there, out to watch.

Fifteen fire engines and 97 firefighters from Sidcup, Eltham, Orpington, Bromley, Bexley and Plumstead were called to the fireat 7pm and the fire was finally under control at 2.03am.

News Shopper:

London Fire Brigade has now confirmed the cause of the fire in under investigation.

Bexley Borough Commander Richard Welch said: "Firefighters have worked extremely hard at this challenging fire within a derelict maternity ward.

News Shopper:

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said they would be at the fire 'throughout the night'. Picture: LFB

"We tackled the fire internally and needed the number of firefighters to regularly change the crews wearing breathing apparatus.

"Thankfully no working parts of the hospital were affected.

"Fire crews will remain at the scene damping down pockets of fire."

News Shopper:

The scene at the hospital, the following day

The blaze destroyed 50 per cent of the first floor, and five per cent of the two-floor building's roof.

Bexley councillor Rob Leitch was enjoying an evening run when he heard the sirens.

News Shopper:

Coun Leitch, who represents the Sidcup ward, told News Shopper: "At least three fire engines were on site with a number of smaller emergency vehicles as well.

"Some serious flames were above the maternity unit and the firefighters appeared to be tackling the blaze from the back of the building.

News Shopper:

Picture: London Fire Brigade

"They seemed to get on top of it quickly and the flames turned into smoke which billowed across Sidcup Place and across the Meadows.

"The fire service seemed totally in control and it didn't appear that anyone was hurt.

"I have no idea what caused the fire yet, but always seems to be a risk.

"A dozen or so members of the public were watching from the pavement.

"Although the unit had been shut so many local people, myself included, were born there - so to see it on fire seemed really quite tragic."

News Shopper:

Picture: London Fire Brigade

Coun Leitch added: "The maternity building was closed a couple of years ago, as such there shouldn't have been anyone inside."

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: "Part of the first floor of a disused maternity ward is alight.

"The fire is deep seated and requires a number of firefighters in breathing apparatus to fight the fire internally.

"The rest of the hospital is unaffected.

"Fire crews will be at the scene throughout the night."

News Shopper:

Picture: London Fire Brigade

Emergency planning officer for London Ambulance service Chris Hawkswell reported they were at the scene on standby, and no was thought to be hurt.

The main hospital, which has around 430 beds, was unaffeced by the blaze.

Paul Burlem tweeted News Shopper to say Sidcup is "blanketed in nasty burning plastic smelling smoke".

Four jets were used to fight the fire - whilst further concerns were raised by the possible presence of asbestos in the building.

In April, nearly 4,000 Bexley residents signed a petition asking for the reinstatement of maternity services at the Sidcup hospital.



News Shopper:

Picture: by @n_s_martin