Mandarin Oriental fire: Hotel owners thank emergency crews
The owners of a luxury central London hotel damaged in a major fire have thanked the emergency services after guests and staff were safely evacuated.
Plumes of thick smoke rose into the sky when the 115-year-old, five star Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park caught fire on Wednesday afternoon.
Thirty-six hotel guests and 250 members of hotel staff were removed to safety.
The singer Robbie Williams, who was in the hotel at the time, described seeing "billows and billows" of smoke.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group expressed "its gratitude to the emergency services for their support".
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) deployed 120 firefighters and 20 engines to the incident in Knightsbridge after receiving the call at about 16:00 BST.
Both the ambulance service and the Met Police also attended, although there were no reports of any injuries.
The blaze, which began on the roof, spread across "a vertical facade for plants and vegetation and into several floors of the hotel", an LFB spokesperson said.
It was extinguished shortly before 22:00 on Wednesday, although some crews remained at the scene throughout the night.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and the LFB said firefighters would remain at the hotel throughout Thursday.
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group had announced only last week that the 12-storey building near Harrods had undergone "the most extensive restoration" in its history.
The international chain said it will update shareholders in July about the impact of the fire.
Robbie Williams, 44, described the drama on Instagram: "I went on the balcony and looked up and there was just billows and billows of smoke.
"I came back in from the balcony and said, 'The hotel's on fire,' and then the next thing a knock at the door came and there was a bellboy there and they said, 'Get out'."
Williams and his wife Ayda Field, 39, ran down an external fire escape to safety.
One hotel worker, who asked not to be named, said: "The fire alarm started and everybody was told to get outside.
"Everything's fine but we don't know how it started yet."
Penelope Evans, 50, from Battersea, south London, was shopping in Harrods when she noticed the thick smoke.
"I saw all this black smoke coming from the sky, it was covering everything and the smell was horrendous," she said.
Ms Evans added: "It was like people were in shock, everyone immediately just started leaving the street and the area.
"There were hundreds of fire engines, ambulances, police racing by and helicopters overhead.
"After Grenfell, I feel like people are a lot more on edge about these things, people just wanted to get out."
Buckingham Palace confirmed a 50th anniversary dinner of the Blues and Royals Club, which was due to be attended by Princess Anne at the hotel on Wednesday night, was cancelled.
The Mandarin Oriental has previously been used by the Royal Family, including an event for British and foreign royals hosted by the Queen on the eve of Prince William's wedding in 2011.