PARIS -- Police evacuated an historic Paris train station on Friday after a fire engulfed multiple vehicles and sent a large cloud of black smoke over the neighborhood.
Police said the fire was under control by nightfall near Gare de Lyon train station. At one point, the station's landmark clock tower was engulfed in smoke.
Paris police said they arrested 54 persons on the margins of a Congolese rapper's concert at nearby Accorhotels Arena concert hall, near the banks of the Seine River.
Someone set fire to a scooter near the train station, and the flames quickly spread to other vehicles nearby, a police official said. The official was not authorized to be named publicly.
Authorities urged people to avoid the area in eastern Paris while emergency workers fight the fire. Paris police said they have no reports of injuries.
Tensions arose around a concert by Congolese rapper Fally Ipupa, amid political tensions between those for and against the regime in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An important community of people from the African, French-speaking country lives in the Paris region.
Protesters blame Ipupa for being a supporter of the former president of Congo, Joseph Kabila, who stepped down in 2018, and his successor Felix Tshisekedi.
French Interior minister Christophe Castaner tweeted “I condemn the damages and violence committed in the area of Gare de Lyon by individuals who have defied the ban on demonstrations.”