Image: Fire at London's Camden market
A fire burns at London's famous Camden market late Saturday. The area is one of the British capital's most popular open-air markets.
updated 2/10/2008 8:31:55 AM ET 2008-02-10T13:31:55

Firefighters dug through the wreckage of London's famous Camden market Sunday, trying to find out what started a large blaze that seriously damaged the market and surrounding buildings.

It took 100 firefighters about three hours to put out the fire on Saturday night. The blaze sent flames high up into the sky over northern London and caused major damage to clothes and craft market stalls and to buildings such as the Hawley Arms, a pub that has been frequented by celebrities such as singer Amy Winehouse, rocker Pete Doherty and model Kate Moss.

There were no casualties.

"In a word, I'm devastated," Ruth Charles-Ridler, the pub's landlady, said as she arrived at the scene to assess the damage Sunday morning. "Everyone I've spoken to is in complete shock. This was a good community pub where everybody knew everybody else. It is a great loss to Camden Town."

"It's quite a heavy blow," Steve Norris, a local business owner, told AP Television News. He said so many shops in the area are small businesses that they could have a difficult time coping with a big fall in customers.

The normally crowded commercial and residential area, complete with open markets and canals, is one of the British capital's top shopping and tourist destinations.

Shut on its busiest day
Sunday is traditionally the busiest day of the week for shoppers at Camden Town's shops, coffee houses, pubs and open markets.

Police kept the burned-out area closed with a cordon on Sunday morning, but allowed tourists and shoppers to use a large part of the unaffected Camden High Street commercial area.

Firefighters said it was too early to say what caused the disaster. About 40 firefighters were working their way through the remaining "hot spots" toward the center of the blaze, said senior firefighter Guy Foster. Their progress was hampered by concerns that some buildings were structurally unsafe.

Some roads, sidewalks, subway and train lines remained closed in the area.

Tourist Marie-Francoise Tagnais, who arrived at Camden market for the first time Sunday, told APTN: "I'm going back to France today and I wanted to see this market, which is famous in London. So I am disappointed."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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