image [email protected] captionA huge plume of smoke is visible above south London

A fire has caused a huge plume of smoke to billow into the sky above south London.

About 70 firefighters are battling the blaze at some railway arches near Elephant and Castle station.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said three commercial units were alight along with four cars and a telephone box.

Local residents have been warned to keep doors and windows closed and all trains have been stopped from running through the area.

Three commercial units underneath the railway arches are completely alight and four cars and a telephone box are also alight near #ElephantandCastle Railway Station. Road closures are in place and people are advised to avoid the area and keep windows and doors closed

— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) June 28, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Ten fire engines were called to the scene at about 13:45 BST, with the fire thought to have started in some garages close to the railway station.

Some people living in the area reported hearing several explosions.

Sara Scarpa, 25, who lives in nearby apartment building Hurlock Heights, said: "We opened the window for a sec as you could hear people shouting, and we smelt something very, very strong.

"The smoke (was) dying down a little… we heard an explosion and now it started again," she said.

image [email protected] captionThree commercial units are alight, firefighters say

Alex Lecki, who works in a restaurant in Elephant and Castle, said his entire building had been evacuated.

"We saw smoke billowing out… The smoke pillar started enveloping the apartment blocks as well and we kept hearing intermittent bangs," the 30-year-old said.

He added that police had "indicated it could be some time" before they would be allowed to return.

image copyrightBen Lovellimage captionLFB says it has received nearly 50 calls about the blaze

The Met said "significant road closures" were in place and people had been advised to avoid the area.

"The station has been evacuated and residential evacuations are taking now place," they said.

Thameslink said trains between St Albans and Sutton and between London Blackfriars and Sevenoaks were affected by the closed rail lines.

Travellers have been advised to use buses, London Underground services or Southeastern services between London Victoria, Peckham Rye, Nunhead and London Bridge to complete their journeys.

image [email protected] captionTrains have been stopped from travelling through the area