Swimmers evacuated from Hackney leisure centre as fire breaks out in pub

The fire broke out in a former pub.

The fire broke out in a former pub. - Credit: sub

Swimmers were evacuated from Kings Hall Leisure Centre’s pool on Friday after a fire broke out in the Lower Clapton pub next door.

The former Fitzgerald’s pub in Lower Clapton Road is being redeveloped into flats and commercial space, and the fire began in its basement.

Ken Levy had only swum two lengths of the Kings Hall Leisure Centre pool when the alarm sounded at around 12.20pm, and all staff, clients and a group of school children immediately evacuated the building and assembled in Clapton Square.

Mr Levy said: “No one had anything other than what they were wearing and had been able to pick up immediately, so I and all other swimmers were dripping wet in our swimwear with our towels around us.

“The staff handed out foil emergency blankets to the swimmers and helped us to cover ourselves properly.

“At the point when the staff were going to take us older swimmers over the road to the police station for warmth and tea, the fire brigade gave the all-clear for everyone to re-enter,” he added.

The cause of the fire, which was under control within less than an hour, is not known at this stage.

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Four fire engines attended the scene, including two from Homerton fire station and one each from Stoke Newington and Kingsland.

In January the fire station in Kingsland Road, Haggerston, was named as one of 12 stations across the capital earmarked for closure under LFB plans to save £28.2 million over the next two years.