Fire at London’s Koko: Special drone unit assist crews at devastating blaze

By Danielle Manning
January 07 2020, 12.40

London Fire Brigade are using drones to assess the damage at music venue Koko after flames tore through its roof last night.

Firefighters worked through the night to contain a huge fire that has destroyed the iconic green dome on the Camden venue after crews were called to the scene at 20.56pm.

By 2.37am crews from five fire stations in north London were able to contain the blaze allowing LFB’s drone team to investigate the wreckage today without firefighters entering the still unsafe building.

Station commander Colin Digby, who was at the scene, said: “The drone is part of the kit we use now to be able to assess parts of the building that would ordinarily be inaccessible.

“It has thermal imaging capacity so if we are looking at areas to determine whether there are still hotspots and that’s part of the reason while we’re still here.

“Because the building is particularly difficult to access due to the scaffolding and the roof area being affected, using the drone means we can do it safely.”

GREEN GIANT: Koko’s oxidised copper dome has been destroyed

The Grade 2 listed building, which has hosted performances from The Rolling Stones, Madonna, and Ed Sheeran in its 120 year history, was due to reopen in the spring after major refurbishment.

LFB purchased two drones as part of measures taken after the Grenfell tower fire in 2017 during which Kent Fire and Rescue Service supplied its one unmanned aircraft to support the operation.

As of August 2019 LFB had used drones 67 times to safely provide aerial and thermal images of fires.

HELP FROM ABOVE: London Fire Brigade own two drones

Mr Digby added: “This particular incident proves its benefit as we can carry out an assessment of the top of the roof, determine how hot it is, the extent of the damage and also work with the other agencies that are here to give them further information, without putting people at risk.

“Drone technology is new, within the fire brigade we are always looking to drive forwards and look to where we can improve and identify things that would be of benefit to us and bring incidents to a close in a safe and structured manner.”

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