A FIRE caused by a gas leak destroyed a tree and caused the evacuation of 20 people in Fulham Palace Road last night.
Witnesses described 10ft-high flames coming from the ground, which caused much of a fir tree to be badly singed.
A large section of Fulham Palace Road was closed following the incident, which happened near the junction with Atalanta Street at about 9pm, causing traffic disruption.
More than 15 properties and nearly 30 people were ordered away from the scene, which was made safe at about 1.30am, and sent to Hammersmith Town Hall. One person was taken to hospital with minor burns to their face and hands.
A neighbour, Hammersmith and Fulham Councillor Gavin Donovan, said he became alarmed when he heard a bang and a crackling sounds coming from a block of flats two doors down.
He said: "The lights in our house started going on and off. I looked outside and thought, 'God what is going on, this must be something serious'.
"I went to the garden and there was am overwhelming smell of gas and then I saw 3ft flames coming from the ground, it was just feet away from the neighbours' front door. Then there was a 'whoosh' and the flames went even higher. It was more spectacular than most fireworks displays.
"Unfortunately at least half the fir tree has been destroyed."
Mr Donovan, a councillor on the Fulham Reach ward, said, after the scene was cordoned off, PCSOs and parks police escorted people to the town hall, where many people stayed for several hours.
"Police were stretched because of the incident in Woolwich but those who were there did a good job. There were a load of us in the town hall, including woman and children, and it was a good atmosphere."
A spokesman for London Fire Brigade said: "Two fire engines were sent at 9pm and didn't leave till 1am. Twenty people were evacuated, one man suffered minor burns to his face and hands."