A major incident was declared in Liverpool city centre amid fears a building could collapse after a huge fire.
Firefighters were called to the blaze in Fox Street around 2.20pm on Saturday and arrived to find a four-storey building measuring 100 metres by 50 metres “well alight”.
The building was showing signs of collapse and fire crews and police had to evacuate buildings, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said.
Photos and video shared on X, formerly Twitter, showed huge clouds of black smoke spewing high into the air above Liverpool.The smoke could be seen from inside Everton's home ground Goodison Park, where the team was playing Luton Town in an FA Cup fixture on Saturday.
— Henry Griffin (@henryjgriffin) January 27, 2024
At 4pm it was declared a major incident.
By 5pm, it was no longer classed as a major incident and the main body of the fire had been extinguished.
And by 6.30pm, nearby residents who had been evacuated were allowed back inside their homes.
There were no reports of casualties, the fire service said.
— Colin Lane (@snapperlane) January 27, 2024
A cordon was in place around the building and the wider area on Saturday evening, and roads were closed including Fox Street, Rose Place, Great Richmond Street, Richmond Brow, Netherfield Road South, Everton Brow and Prince Edwin Street.
The fire service was urging people to avoid the area and nearby residents and businesses to close windows and doors.
Lara Buchanan, a trainee teacher from Liverpool, was driving through Kingsway Tunnel from the Wirral when she noticed a “dark rolling cloud” of smoke.
Huge fire in Liverpool city centre pic.twitter.com/VMemHmiKBG
— George Trad (@thegeorgetrad) January 27, 2024
She said she could “feel the heat” of the blaze from her car and was shocked when she saw the extent of the fire.
Ms Buchanan, 23, said: “As I came out of the tunnel into Liverpool, the sky was dark and all I could see was a black rolling cloud.
“The building was blazing alight and I could feel the heat from the car driving past."
Another Liverpool resident told how smoke “pretty much covered half of the skyline”.
A statement on Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s website says: “Fire crews have been called to a large fire on Fox Street, Liverpool City Centre, L3.
“12 fire engines and two aerial appliances are in attendance. Crews were alerted at 2.18pm and on scene at 2.23pm.
“Crews arrived to find a four storey building 100 metres x 50 metres well alight.
“The incident has been divided into sectors, with firefighters wearing breathing apparatus fighting the fire with main branch hoses.
“The building is showing signs of collapse and fire crews are evacuating buildings.
“The incident is ongoing. Please avoid the area. Residents and businesses nearby should close windows and doors.
“If you have an existing health condition, keep medicines nearby and if any ill effects occur dial NHS 111 for advice.”