A huge fire at a paint factory sent smoke billowing across London with eyewitnesses reporting “fireballs” shooting into the air.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said nearly 100 firefighters tackled the large blaze that completely destroyed a paint factory on Waterloo Road, Staples Corner.

Local residents were urged to close their doors and windows as a plume of thick black smoke rose above the inferno.

Achal Dhillon, who lives in Hendon, less than half a mile from the scene, said the fire was burning “quite violently” for more than 30 minutes.

The 33-year-old told the Press Association that he saw fireballs being propelled into the air from the burning building up to a height of 100 metres.

Witnessing the fire spread through the building Mr Dhillon, after spotting what was initially a small blaze or a “little dot”, said there was then a “loud pop”.

“Then we saw a lot of flames suddenly rise up by themselves… then just this huge mountain of fire, almost pyramid shaped and spiralling as it was shooting fireballs into the air,” he said.

Mr Dhillon said there was a “huge trail of thick black smoke” and he was “amazed” at how quickly the fire service responded, adding that it was probably only a couple of minutes before they arrived and were tackling the flames.

LFB said that it was called at 9.20pm on Monday night and took more than 45 999 calls in relation to the blaze before it was brought under control at about 12.22am on Tuesday.

A spokesman said the “significant” fire could be seen across London.

“The fire completely destroyed the single storey building. Factory workers left before the Brigade arrived,” they added.

There were no reports of any injuries and firefighters remained at the scene throughout the night damping down pockets of fire.