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Service remembers victims of King's Cross fire 30 years on

The fire-damaged escalators at King's Cross underground station. Credit: PA

A memorial service has taken place to mark the 30th anniversary of the King's Cross fire which claimed the lives of 31 people.

Victims' families, survivors and emergency services personnel who responded to the blaze on 18 November 1987 gathered at the north London Tube station at 11am.

Around 60 people were also injured when a wooden escalator fire, thought to have been caused by a dropped match, ripped through part of the station.

Stricter fire safety regulations were implemented after the disaster. Credit: PA

Following the devastating fire and public inquiry, stricter fire safety regulations were implemented.

Dave Flanagan, 56, was among the first firefighters to arrive at the scene and remembers a feeling of "fearing for your life".

Many of the victims died when the blaze swept through the ticket hall.

Recalling the scene once the fire was extinguished, Mr Flanagan, a married father-of-two, said: "Everywhere was black and charred. All the paint had been burned off the metal ticket machines.

Firefighter Dave Flanagan, who was caught up in the King's Cross fire stands next to a plaque dedicated to the firemen who attended the fire. Credit: PA

"That was where a lot of the casualties were. They were caught in the flash over. It was such a horrible situation."

British Transport Police chief constable Paul Crowther was a sergeant on duty on the night of the fire and described the "utter devastation" he witnessed.

"I will never forget the sights, the sound and the smell of the terrible event," he said.

"I know the impact of the night is still felt physically and psychologically by many people, even 30 years on, and it's so important that we take the time to acknowledge this and to remember."

Firefighters battled the blaze that killed 31 and injured 60 others in 1987. Credit: PA

London Underground managing director Mark Wild paid tribute to the station staff, train drivers and emergency services who "were very brave", adding that Saturday's service will provide a "serious point of reflection".

He said: "The really key thing out of King's Cross is it instilled a safety culture in London Underground of continuously improving.

"Even though that risk has been eliminated, we're always alert to future ones."

Following the disaster smoking was immediately banned on all parts of the Tube, wooden escalators were replaced and Underground staff were trained in what to do in the event of a fire.

Among the dead was London Fire Brigade station officer Colin Townsley.

He was in charge of the first fire engine to arrive at the scene shortly after 7.30pm and was in the station when the fireball erupted, engulfing the ticket office with smoke.

Mr Townsley was posthumously awarded a certificate of commendation for his bravery.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said the King's Cross fire stands alongside the disaster at Grenfell Tower as a reminder that "safety and regulation must remain our watchwords regardless of what the bottom line says on a set of accounts".