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Old Bailey fire: Everything to know as explosions spark evacuations at London courthouse


The historic Old Bailey courthouse in central London was plunged into darkness as a series of explosions were heard near the building on February 7, 2024.

According to the BBC, the lights flickered inside the Central Criminal Court before it was evacuated, and a firefighter claimed that a part of the building housing the electrical substation went up in flames.

Several videos depicting the fire were circulated on social media, which showcased black smoke emerging from the building’s lowest windows.

Firefighters called for an immediate evacuation as nearby buildings also reported power cuts. The iconic courthouse is home to many of London’s major trials, including the ongoing trial of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon, who were accused of killing their own baby.


Old Bailey evacuated due to fire as explosions were heard

According to Metro, emergency services were called to the Old Bailey on reports of explosions, flickering lights, and fire. The London Fire Brigade (LFB) dispatched four fire engines and 25 firefighters to the scene involving an electrical substation on Warwick Lane.

“Four fire engines and around 25 firefighters are responding to an incident involving an electrical substation on Warwick Lane, near the rear of the Old Bailey.” LFB said in a statement.

According to the BBC, there was reportedly a fire on the ground floor of the Central Criminal Court, and black, acrid smoke can be seen emerging from the building. The lights in the Old Bailey flickered before finally going black just before the fire alarms rang.

Nick Johnson, a BBC journalist and an eyewitness, described hearing an electrical humming noise before everything went black in the courtroom.

According to the Mirror, Recorder of London Judge Mark Lucraft was inside the Old Bailey presiding over a trial when the explosion occurred.

“What most of us heard was a loud bang and some black billowing smoke. Power went off in the building. As far as I’m aware it’s the substation situated in the Old Bailey building. We are waiting for UK power to come and see before the fire brigade can go in.” He said.

A worker in a neighboring building also said they heard a rumbling sound before black smoke appeared. LFB has advised people to stay away from the Old Bailey and surrounding areas as they put out the fire and investigate the cause of the flames. They continued in their statement:

“Traffic in the area is likely to be impacted as we respond. The Brigade was first called about the incident at 10:44. Firefighters from Dowgate, Soho and Dockhead Fire Station are at the scene. The cause of the fire is not yet known.”

There have been no reported casualties at the Old Bailey at the time of writing this article.


Constance Marten and Mark Gordon’s ongoing trial paused in light of the fire

According to Metro, the highly anticipated ongoing trial of Constance Marten and Mark Gordon has been put on hold due to the fire. The proceedings were stopped at 10:45 a.m., and the courtroom was evacuated soon afterwards.

According to the BBC, Marten and Gordon were arrested in Brighton on February 27, 2023, on charges of manslaughter by gross negligence of their newborn baby girl, Victoria.

The couple went missing with their newborn baby on January 5, 2023, a mere few days after the baby was born. They were found weeks later without their baby, which prompted a search involving over 200 police officers across an area of around 230 sq. km.

On March 1, the baby’s remains were found in a bag in a shed near where the couple was arrested.

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