Richard Rees, a 62-year-old pensioner who works in the community, said:
"When I got here the flames were going. The fire services arrived very quickly and did a fantastic job. All staff got out very quick and professional, they got out safe...It's a listed building, it was one of the very few treasured buildings in the community. It took a long time to get it listed and it is a very sad day for us.Parts of it are Grade I listed and parts Grade II. It is Victorian and was the old town hall before the big boroughs were set up. It is one of three in the borough which the council has been trying to sell off"
A fire service spokesman said the whole of the roof of the museum and library was on fire.
Station Manager Peter Critchell, at the scene, said:
"Flames are coming through the roof and there is thick grey smoke billowing up. Firefighters are still working hard at the scene to try and bring the blaze under control. We now have water jets attacking the fire from the four corners of the building. We evacuated 30 people from inside the museum and firefighters will be making efforts to salvage as many of the artefacts as possible."
– Peter Critchell, Station Manager, London Fire Brigade