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King’s Cross fire

The King’s Cross fire broke out on 18 November 1987 at approximately 19:30 at King’s Cross St. Pancras tube station, a major interchange in the London Underground. The fire killed 31 people. As well as the mainline railway stations above ground and subsurface platforms for the Metropolitan lines, there were platforms deeper underground for the Northern, Piccadilly, and Victoria lines. The fire started on an escalator serving the Piccadilly Line and approximately 15 minutes after being reported, as the first members of the London Fire Brigade were investigating, the fire flashed over, filling the underground ticket office with heat and smoke.

The subsequent public inquiry determined that the fire had started due to a lit match being dropped onto the escalator and suddenly increased in intensity due to a previously unknown trench effect. London Underground were strongly criticized for their attitude toward fires. Complacent because there had never been a fatal fire in the Underground, staff had been given little or no training to deal with fires or evacuation.
The publication of the report led to resignations of senior management in both London Underground and London Regional Transport and to the introduction of new fire safety regulations.

Smoking was banned in all London Underground stations, including on the escalators, on 23 November, five days after the fire. By January 1990 the wooden escalators in subterranean Underground stations had been replaced with metal ones.

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