London’s burning… well it could have been

November 12, 2007

When a huge plume of black smoke appeared in the sky over the City of London just before midday today, everyone scrambled. Some sought vantage points affording a view of the city and its landmarks while others moved towards the source of the smoke.

Fire 3

Rumours abounded – Canary Wharf was burning; a plane had pancaked at City airport. 

The reality was much less dramatic, an unoccupied warehouse on the Olympic development site in Stratford, east London was on fire, there were no casualties and the blaze was quickly brought under control by emergency services.

Fire 4

As far as John Voos was concerned when he shot these images from our office roof of the pall of smoke over St Paul’s cathedral, he was covering a full scale emergency. False alarm it may have been but his pictures nevertheless evoke memories of Herbert Mason’s famous image of the great Wren cathedral glimpsed intact through the smoke and ruins of Blitz-shattered London.

Canary wharf

Kevin Coombs and Jacopo Pandolfi’s graphic images of Canary Wharf menaced by the black cloud look like scenes from Ghostbusters.

Canary Wharf smoke

Fortunately it was a non-event but it could all too well have been otherwise. It certainly got the adrenaline flowing on a chilly November morning and it did make lovely pictures.


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Posted by » Blog Archive » London’s burning… well it could have been | Report as abusive

Hi, almost everyday I log on to and get to see the editor’s choice pictures and the other slide shows. I constantly read this blog too.

Today, in the editors choice, you can see in picture 15 of “REUTERS/John Voos” the original photo (I suppose) of the one that starts this post, but without the crop. In the original one at the “Editor’s Choice” photos of today, you can see two SENSOR DUST spots on the sky of the photo. This is a shame.

This is the first time I get to notice something like this in so great photos the editor’s choose. May be a clean version of the photo could be better, and removing those spots doesn’t change the reality of the London scene, but makes a better photo.

Thanks, good post and great other photos indeed.

Pablo Puga

Posted by Pablo Puga | Report as abusive

You’re wrong actually – that cloud of smoke came from Hemel Hemsptead – Buncefield Oil Depot. Get your facts straight.

Posted by – | Report as abusive

This is just the “Official Story”
Captain Jack Harkness, and The Doctor actually saved all of London and Earth, from an evil coalition of invading Daleks and Cybermen.
That’s the truth of it.

Posted by chrismoranec | Report as abusive