The blaze sent a huge plume of thick black smoke into the sky over central Paris, as police warned the pubic to avoid the area.
“Avoid the area and allow the emergency services to intervene,” the police tweeted a little after 6pm on Friday.
Incendie en cours aux abords de la gare de Lyon. Évacuation de la gare en cours.
⛔ Évitez le secteur et laissez intervenir les secours. pic.twitter.com/5Yj205mvD4
— Préfecture de Police (@prefpolice) February 28, 2020
Paris: la gare de Lyon est en cours d'évacuation après le départ d'un incendie, selon la préfecture pic.twitter.com/uwMfd4RZ1p
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) February 28, 2020
The SCNF train service operator said the underground section of the Gare de Lyon was evacuated as a precautionary measure. Train traffic was severely disrupted.
The caused transport disruption on several Metro lines. Parisian rail operator RATP tweeted that the station was shut following the incident.
Bonjour, actuellement, la Gare de Lyon reste fermée. Cela fait suite aux indications de la @prefpolice . Milo
— RER A (@RER_A) February 28, 2020
Passersby posted images of the fires on Twitter.
???ALERTE INFO – À Paris, la Gare de Lyon est en cours d’évacuation après des échauffourées et des incendies allumés en marge d’un concert d’une star de la chanson congolaise. La préfecture de police évoque « des exactions inadmissibles » (franceinfo). pic.twitter.com/om0QvL501l
— ?Le Globe (@LeGlobe_info) February 28, 2020
— I.E.N. (@BreakingIEN) February 28, 2020
According to the capital's main daily Le Parisien, the fire erupted during a protest against the Congolese star Fally Ipupa, who was to hold a concert on Friday evening in AccorHotels Arena, in Bercy, east in the capital.
Police said it had intervened to stop protesters who set alight garbage bins and scooters, releasing a thick, black smoke cloud over the city centre.
Police tweeted that “scandalous behaviour from protesters” prevented the Paris fire brigade from accessing the fire, together with a video showing protesters clashing with firefighters.
Outside the station, AFP witnessed a dozen firetrucks at work amid the smouldering wrecks of about 30 vehicles, mainly scooters.
Police had banned any protests around the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, not far from the station, where Congolese artist Fally Ipupa was to give a concert.
Congolese expats regularly speak out against artists from home who perform in France or Belgium, accusing them of being close to former DR Congo president Joseph Kabila and his successor Felix Tshisekedi.
A 2017 concert by Ipupa was cancelled by police citing risks for “serious disturbances to the public order”.