Residents had to be evacuated after a white van burst into flame outside their homes in Jamaica Road “for no apparent reason”.
The van was parked by The Boatman pub when it erupted into a fireball at about 6.20pm.
Frank Jennings was in the pub when he and other drinkers heard a “loud bang” from outside.
“People were all taking pictures but the police cleared them away to keep them safe,” Frank said.
“The fire brigade came just after and poured foam and powder on it.
“People had to be evacuated from their flats opposite because the police said they couldn’t be sure what chemicals might have been in the van.”
“The van had a load of scaffolding on the back and the driver was on the other side of the road, but no one was hurt.
“We were thinking of cooking some steaks on it.”
A Met Police spokesman confirmed they were called at 6.21 to deal with the incident, and that they are not treating it as suspicious.