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Some fires are so bad, and affect so many people, that they hit the headlines and leave devastation in their wake on a huge scale. One of the most destructive and deadly fires in the UK was the Kings Cross fire in 1987.
The Kings Cross Fire started on the 18th of November 1987. The London fire brigade were called to the station when what at the time was a small fire, was found burning, caused by someone dropping a lit match. It had fallen through the gaps in the escalator, and when it landed on the debris and grease below, it ignited a larger fire.
Although the fire started small, the conditions for it to grow were perfect – and it grew quickly. As it became larger and hotter, the fire started to heat up the frame of the escalator, which then caused it to become dangerously hot, and then catch fire, which spread to the staircase. Because of this, the escape route was blocked, and as the flames grew, it also started to consume the ticket hall, which made rescue more difficult.
31 people were killed in the devastating blaze, including a firefighter, Colin Townsley. He was attempting to help burned commuters to safety when he was overcome by the smoke in the building.
The fire, which was first started at around 7.25pm that evening, as the last of the rush hour commuters were making their way through the station, was finally extinguished by 1.46am the following morning. Following a public inquiry into the incident, many changes were made to make the tube stations safer and to prevent this from happening again.
The changes included banning smoking in all parts of the stations, replacing the escalators that were wooden, improving PPE for the fire brigade and better communication equipment for the fire brigade to allow them to communicate better from below the ground.