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Christmas shoppers hit by BT fire

Exchange blaze cuts off London's retail heart

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A flood and fire in one of BT's major exchanges in London's west end has left stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street unable to process card payments in the last few shopping days before Christmas.

The small blaze overnight at the Gerrard Street facility in Soho has left thousands of businesses without broadband and telephone access. BT has posted a picture of the damage here.

The electrical fire was caused by water, which BT said came from premises adjacent to the exchange*.

BT said: "BT can confirm that water damage has disrupted power supply to an exchange in the west end of London.

"A number of customers in Central London are currently experiencing a loss of service. Following clearance from the Fire Brigade, BT's engineers are on site and working around the clock to repair the electrical cabling damage and restore service as quickly as possible.

"BT would like to apologise to all customers impacted."

A spokeswoman said that due to the complexity of the incident BT could not give an estimate as to when service will be restored.

Following a similar flood and fire at a large exchange in Paddington in April customers were without services for several days. ®

*This report originally said the exchange's spriklers were triggered. It has been changed following new information from BT.

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