Dozens of residents have been evacuated after a burst water main flooded a London street and left thousands without water.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) said eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called to Belsize Road in Camden at 2.50am on Saturday morning after a 42-inch water main burst, causing flooding to a depth of half a metre across an area of around 800 metres.
The fire service said that main had been isolated on Saturday afternoon, but a further 15-inch water main had also burst and around 100 properties were affected by floodwater.
The fire brigade said multiple homes have been flooded and firefighters had to lead around 25 residents to safety.
Footage shared on social media shows emergency services using small boats and helping residents wrapped in blankets to safety.
Stefano Calcagni, from Hammersmith, was dogsitting for a friend in a first and second-floor property on Belsize Road when he woke to a text telling him about the floods on Saturday morning.
The 48-year-old banker was evacuated by boat alongside the two hounds, named Batista and Pandora, on Saturday afternoon, after watching his neighbours in the basement flat below escape via their window.
“I opened the curtains, I saw there was water downstairs,” Mr Calcagni, originally from Milan, Italy, told the PA news agency.
“The water level was halfway up the door to the basement flat.
“It’s owned by a couple, I saw them leave through the window as they couldn’t get out the door.
“I’ve spoken to my friend and told him about everything, he’s back tomorrow but knows it’s not as bad as for the basement flat – one week before Christmas.”
Mr Calcagni said water had come up the outside steps to his friend’s home and not inside, but he decided to evacuate to stay with another friend as there was no central heating, no hot water and little food in the house.
“(Being on the boat) was surreal, there were things floating everywhere… the dogs got excited on the little boat but they’re fine,” Mr Calcagni added.
Station commander Gary Deacon said from the scene: “This is a significant flooding that has affected around 100 properties and left thousands without water.
“Shift water rescue crews used boats to move around 20 people to upper floors of properties.
“Three adults and a child were evacuated to a place of safe haven.
“A number of residents have decided to remain in their properties and we’re patrolling the affected area to assist any further people who require assistance.
“The water authority are working to isolate the burst water main and firefighters are expected to remain at the scene throughout the afternoon.
“A rest centre has been set up for affected residents at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre.”
Cody Dolcy-Grant lives in Hilgrove Road, at the end of Belsize Road, and said she woke up to scenes “like the river Thames” outside her home.
“I wasn’t aware of the situation ’til 7am when I went to the toilet, realised the toilet wasn’t flushing and no water was coming out of the taps,” the 27-year-old, who is unemployed due to a health condition, told the PA news agency.
“My road was flooded… when I opened the front door it was like a horror scene, fire engines up my whole road, police, ambulance, and then I looked to my left and it was like the river Thames outside.”
Ms Dolcy-Grant lives on the second floor of her building so her home was not flooded, but at noon on Saturday she said she still had no running water, all shops were closed and transport had been halted on her street.
In an update on Saturday evening, Thames Water said water pressure in the area was starting to return and will continue to do so overnight.
A spokesperson added: “We have been delivering bottled water to customers who are pre-registered with us. This includes those who have special requirements, such as being medically reliant on water.
“Our customer representatives are in the process of visiting the Belsize Road area to carry out door-knocking to see if there is any more assistance we can provide. Loss adjustors are in the area to assess the damage and support residents in getting their lives back to normal.
“Our repair team will continue to work hard to get the pipe fixed as soon as they possibly can, and we’ll continue to keep our website and social media updated with our progress.”
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