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."
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A lamp in the tower which houses Big Ben is to be switched off for the first time in more than 70 years.
Sir Bruce entertained audiences for more than seven decades.
Work in the tower will also pause over the bank holiday weekend.