Ablaze: Pictured is the Baitul Futuh in Morden, South London, which is the largest in western Europe
Seventy firefighters in south London are battling an enormous blaze which engulfed western Europe’s largest mosque.
Ten fire engines were dispatched to deal with the fire at the Baitful Futuh mosque in Morden, which started burning around midday.
A man has been taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, but community leaders have said they do not believe anybody else was affected. The cause of the blaze is not yet known.
Before: The Baitul Futuh can be seen here in a file photo from 2003. One man caught up in the blaze is is hospital with smoke inhalation
Shocked onlookers gathered opposite the mosque, watching a dark plume of smoke billowing out of the building’s roof before they were ushered behind a police cordon. The fire was reported by a member of the public just after midday.
The enormous building sits on a 5.2acre site and can hold 10,500 people. At the time of the fire, however, only a handful of worshippers were inside, and were quickly evacuated. Nobody was at prayer when the fire broke out.
The huge effort to control the fire involved the police, ambulance services and the large fire brigade presence. The firefighting operation shut down the A24 and traffic was tailed back for miles as a result.
As of 6pm, the London Fire Brigade said they had contained the fire to administrative buildings and halls around the main mosque, which was not directly affected by the fire – though it was engulfed by smoke. Shortly afterwards they declared the fire ‘under control’.