The INMA World Congress opening reception was a night delegates will never forget. 

Thinking a prank was being done by or to INMA President Mark Challinor, who was in the middle of his opening speech, the 250 gathered mostly ignored the fire alarms that started going off shortly after the cocktails began. 

Then the Beefeaters (formally known as Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty’s Royal Palace) started forcefully shooing the group out the door. One said there had not been a fire there since the Jewel House burned in 1841.

250 INMA members attending the opening reception of the INMA World Congress are evacuated from the Tower of London Monday evening.
250 INMA members attending the opening reception of the INMA World Congress are evacuated from the Tower of London Monday evening.

The Evening Standard reported the fire started in the kitchen: “Four fire engines were sent to the scene after a small fire broke out in the New Armouries restaurant kitchen, a London Fire Brigade spokeswoman said.”

The Daily Star headline on the incident seemed a bit dramatic: “Fire at London tourist hotspot sparks mayhem.”

Firetrucks arrive to check on the fire, which started in the kitchen.
Firetrucks arrive to check on the fire, which started in the kitchen.

The crowd of media executives got swept up in their journalism roots, more concerned with photos of the event than their safety, much to the chagrin of the Beefeaters. The crowd immediately shared the event via social media.

Here’s how the evening played out: