London’s Shard Evacuated After Reports of Fire at Skyscraper

The Shard skyscraper in London, western Europe’s tallest building, was evacuated after reports of a fire and smoke coming from the basement.

Seven fire engines and about 50 firefighters were called to the 306-meter (1,004-foot) tower on the south bank of the River Thames after smoke was reported at 10:30 a.m., the London Fire Brigade said in a statement. At about 1:45 p.m., the brigade said there was no more sign of smoke and that people would soon be allowed back into the building.

“There’s no fire apparent,” Keeley Foster, a local fire station manager and press liaison on the scene said earlier. “We had a report of smoke in the basement. The basement is a plant room.”

About 900 people in the building were evacuated, according to the statements and a Twitter posting by the fire department. No injuries were reported. Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service also responded to reports of a fire, according to a separate statement.

“We’ve still got crews in there,” Foster said. “We’ve got officers in the control room while we find out for definite what’s caused it. The smoke is dissipating, but they just want to know what caused it.”

The Qatar Central Bank owns about 95 percent of the tower. Duff & Phelps Corp., a New York-based investment bank, media group Al Jazeera and law firm Mathys & Squire LLP are among the companies that have agreed to lease 170,000 square feet (15,800 square meters) of office space in the tower, Real Estate Management UK Ltd. said in a February statement.

Private Apartments

A five-star Shangri-la hotel occupies the 34th to 52nd floors. The Oblix, Aqua Shard and Hutong restaurants are on levels 31 to 33. Private apartments stretch from levels 53 to 65.

The Shard became the U.K.’s tallest building when its 69th floor was constructed in December 2010, overtaking the 771-foot tower at One Canada Square in the Canary Wharf financial district.

The steeple-shaped Shard, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, overlooks the City of London financial district, where rival developers are finishing towers nicknamed the Cheesegrater and the Walkie-Talkie.

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