• "Excuse me, you're on fire!" - Fire incident @ Piccadilly Tube Station

    I was walking through Piccadilly Tube station at about 11.40pm on 15th August, having entered through the Shaftesbury Avenue entry (no.4, I think), when a lady ran up to me shouting, 

    “You’re on fire! Excuse me, you’re on fire”. 

    I turned round and the bottom of my canvas bag was in flames and the folder inside - and the paper inside that - was also on fire, though it had not yet reached me, beyond the bag. We scrambled to get the bag off me and all helped stamp out the fire. Meanwhile, another lady with dark brown hair had approached and said - “I had smelt burning somewhere....” 

    I took the folder out of the bag and we stamped out the fire on that too, and pulled out the paper from inside the folder which was also smouldering. When the fire seemed out, the lady and her male friend started to leave, but then pointed again at the things saying, “they’re still on fire” - hot spots of orange still glowered on the bag and the folder and the paper. 

    The lady with dark brown hair was saying insistently that she had also smelt smoke near the escalator, suggesting that someone might have been set on fire there, too, and that she had seen “skin-heads” loitering near one of the exits.  Someone who had already smelt smoke (or else actually seen something) had called the police who arrived and apparently bomb detection squad officers had also been called. The second lady described to the police what she saw - insistent that she had also smelt smoke near the escalator - as the police told people to calm down. Then this lady left (I don’t think she left her details). 

    I gave a victim statement as to what had happened, retracing my steps through the tube station (this had happened before I had yet passed through the Oyster-ticket gates into the escalator area). Another group of officers passed and stopped with us. “Do you think it was deliberate?”, I asked, and one said, “Yes, there are some stupid people about”, shaking his head.  They walked on soon after and another officer stayed to take my details, asking my name, address, date of birth, place of birth. “Has this ever happened to you before?”, they also asked.  Meanwhile, people stopped to watch and milled around. 

    A police officer has been allocated to look at the CCTV and investigate the crime. 

    If you witnessed anything please get in touch.  And if you were the good samaritans who rushed to save those flames from spreading any further - THANK YOU - they just about missed catching fire to a 600 page novel inside the canvas bag and also the highly flammable woolen jumper I was holding.  I was lucky. I was lucky that the lady spotted my bag in flames and called out to me just in the nick of time. I’m writing this post in case there is somebody out there deliberately doing this, so an even worse situation does not develop. Even a small fire on the underground is highly dangerous and can spread rapidly. Given that one of the witnesses claimed having also smelt smoke near the escalator, it seems very suspicious that what happened to me is not an isolated incident. Is someone deliberately setting peoples on fire at Piccadilly Tube Station? 

    Anyone with any information, please get in touch so this can be investigated and the perpetrator stopped.

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  April 2012

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