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Kings Cross fire

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The Kings Cross fire was a devastating underground fire in London on November 18, 1987 which killed thirty-one people. It destroyed much of Kings Cross St. Pancras London Underground station, which has platforms on the Victoria, Piccadilly, Northern, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Metropolitan lines.

The fire was caused by rubbish beneath wooden escalators being ignited, thought to be caused by a dropped cigarette.

The fire was made worse by the decision to stop tube trains from stopping at the station, in an attempt to prevent people getting out from the trains into the burning station. Instead of stopping at the platforms, the trains continued through, acting like pistons in the confines of the tunnel and forcing an air draft up the chimney-like escalator shaft, fanning the fire further.

The Kings Cross fire led to the banning of smoking throughout the London Underground network, and the eventual removal of all wooden escalators from Underground stations. The publication of the Fennell Report into the fire resulted in the introduction of the Fire Precautions (Sub-surface Railway Stations) Regulations 1989.

See also Kings Cross station


  • Desmond Fennell, Investigation into the King's Cross Underground Fire. The Stationery Office Books; ISBN 0101049927

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