Huge fire breaks out near Gare de Lyon train station in Paris

Police said the fires were started after clashes outside a concert venue

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By Nancy Ing and Henry Austin

PARIS — A major train station in the center of Paris was evacuated Friday after a huge fire broke out nearby, sending clouds of black smoke billowing toward the sky.

A row of parked scooters and motorcycles burned near Gare de Lyon station — one of six major stations in the French capital — after clashes broke out between people attending a concert by singer Fally Ipupa, a star in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and those boycotting the show. Police tweeted that cars also were set on fire along the sidewalk.

Ipupa was set to perform at the AccorHotels Arena on Friday night.

"Scooters were first set on fire, then the fire quickly propagated," police said, adding that public demonstrations had been banned in the area surrounding the event.

Police later tweeted that 30 people had been arrested in connection with the demonstration.

Large plumes of smoke could be seen powering skyward in videos and pictures posted on social media by eyewitnesses. Others showed an angry mob attacking firefighters at the scene.

The fire was started deliberately, police tweeted, adding that it resulted from "unacceptable abuses committed on the margins of a concert."

Advising people to avoid the area so that emergency services could get through, police said they were evacuating the station as a precaution. They also tweeted that the fire was under control and was being extinguished.

A fire fighter works at the scene of a fire near Gare de Lyon railway station in Paris on Friday. Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

The fires come less than a year after a huge blaze engulfed Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral, causing the historic building's roof to collapse.

The fire, which took nine hours to extinguish, also destroyed a spire and spread to one of its two rectangular towers.

The house of worship, with roots dating back to the 12th century, is considered one of the world's greatest examples of French Gothic architecture.

Nancy Ing reported from Paris, Henry Austin reported from London.