Tennis: Wimbledon grounds evacuated after fire alert

Police evacuating the area as a fire engine arrives after a fire broke out inside Centre Court in Wimbledon.
Police evacuating the area as a fire engine arrives after a fire broke out inside Centre Court in Wimbledon.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS/AFP) - Wimbledon's famed Centre Court was evacuated after the close of play on Wednesday as firemen and police responded to a fire alarm.

An announcement was made on the public address system shortly after 9pm asking anyone inside the building to leave immediately.

An AFP photographer at the scene saw smoke coming from near a dining terrace.

Police vans and fire engines were in attendance, and firemen in full breathing apparatus were seen going past the well-known Fred Perry statue to the east of the 15,000-capacity arena as security staff also rushed to the scene with fire extinguishers.

A further announcement said anyone on the tea lawn between Gates 4 and 5 should also evacuate. Minutes later, everyone within the All England Club grounds was ordered to leave.

The first announcement interrupted a Serena Williams press conference in the Millennium Building media centre, adjacent to Centre Court. That was allowed to continue, however.

Media were allowed to stay in the press centre, adjacent to Centre Court.

The cause was an electrical fire, Wimbledon organisers said on their official Twitter feed.

"Confirmation that Centre Court was evacuated long after play had concluded owing to a suspected electrical fault. Fire brigade in attendance."

An All England Club spokesman added there were no reports of injuries.

London Fire Brigade said they had been called to the historic tennis venue, but did not give details, while London's Metropolitan Police said they were also on hand, and that the incident was "not suspicious".

It said on its Twitter account that a total of 3,000 people were evacuated as a precaution and later added: "Game set and match. The fire at #Wimbledon2015 tennis club is now under control."