Fire at iconic Camden music venue now under control

Firefighters responded to famed nightclub, Koko, in Camden at 8:56pm on Monday night (6 January) after a fire broke out at the venue. According to the London Fire Brigade (LFB), there were eight fire engines and 60 firefighters sent to the club. The fire was reported to be under control at 2:37 am this morning.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan praised the “ brave firefighters” for their quick response to the fire, urging people to “avoid the area if you can.” 

The department tweeted yesterday that 30% of the roof was on fire and they were working to save the structure. Today, they have confirmed that the roof has been damaged by the fire but managed to save the rest of the building. 

The LFB said on Twitter, “The fast action and hard work of firefighters contained the #Camden nightclub fire to the roof of the building.” 

No injuries were reported at the scene and the cause of the fire is not yet known. 

The club was temporarily closed for refurbishment, and was due to open again in Spring 2020. The refurbishment was due to cost £40 million and has been in progress since March last year. It intended to add six performance areas, a radio station and a broadcast station to the venue. 

The venue is an iconic part of London’s nightlife, having first opened in 1900 as a theatre. It closed as the Camden Palace in 2004 and reopened as Koko in 2005. Many Twitter users echoed this sentiment, expressing their sadness and frustration at the “potential loss of such a huge part of Camden’s culture.” 

London’s nightlife and music venues have slowly been closing over the last decade. Spaces that were designated as ‘queer’ or ‘alternative’ venues have found themselves up against increased rent in the city and lower turnout than they would’ve liked. This has led to an erosion of safe spaces for those that consider themselves to be out of the mainstream – whether that is with regards to sexuality, music or theatre. 

Koko’s owner, Olly Bengough, said about the venue’s refurbishment last year: “This isn’t just about offering a music venue… London is a forward-facing city. Where we lead, the world follows and we have to move with it. We’re protecting the culture, helping Camden and London.”

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