Paddington fire affects 437 BT exchanges

The fire in north-west London has knocked out parts of BT's next-generation and legacy networks throughout the nation, while also affecting Lloyds' card payment systems

A fire at a BT exchange in Paddington has knocked out broadband and telephone connectivity for many people and businesses linked to 437 exchanges around the UK.

Reports of the fire in north-west London emerged on Wednesday morning, with the business communications provider Gradwell saying the outage affected up to 37,500 circuits. Lloyds Bank has also said its card payment system was affected.

"A small number of our customers have been affected by the incident this morning at a BT exchange in London," Lloyds said. "We are working with our partners to restore the service as soon as possible."

Late on Wednesday morning, Gradwell's support page read: "Customers may experience issues with their ADSL connection, the router will be able to sync and obtain a connection, yet traffic will not pass (Web/Email/VoIP services will be unavailable)."

Early in the afternoon, BT issued a statement confirming that, "following a fire at a BT exchange in the Paddington area, customers in parts of North and West London may be experiencing a loss of broadband and/or telephone service".

"Customers in other parts of the country may also be affected," the statement read. "We are currently assessing the impact of the damage but will only know the full extent of the impact once the site has been declared safe and our engineers are able to enter the building. We will issue a further update once we have more information on the incident."

Later in the afternoon, BT issued a revised statement noting that, "following major flooding at a BT exchange in the Paddington area", tens of thousands of customers may be caught up in the outage.

"We are currently working on restoring services to customers, however as this is a complex incident we cannot accurately predict when all services will be restored. We will issue further updates as the situation changes," the company said. "Any customers needing to make calls to the emergency services who have a problem using their phones are advised to do so by using their mobile phone, or alternatively by using a friend or neighbour's working phone."

The BT Business support page noted that the outage affected the company's next-generation, fibre-based 21CN network, as well as its legacy network. Gradwell has posted a full list of the affected exchanges.