A STATIONARY shop in Eastcote has been completely destroyed by fire.
The fire brigade were called to Hammond Roberts in Field End Road at 5.25am yesterday (Sunday) and 17 people had to be rescued from the flats above the shop.
The fire is still under investigation, but it is believed arson has been ruled out and an electrical fault could be the cause.
The shop has been open for 44 years, making it one of the oldest in the high street, and Anil and Mina Patel have owned the shop for six years.
Mrs Patel said: "We found out from the alarm company because the fire brigade had to break in.
"We went straight there and we thought it was arson at first, but we don't know the cause yet.
"The fire was quite big and it has destroyed quite a lot of the shop. Virtually everything is destroyed.
"It's the most popular stationary shop around, not only in Eastcote. It's like a community shop and it's very well known.
"We have to do something quickly for the customers so we might open a temporary shop in the high street until we can reopen this one."
Four fire engines and around 20 fire fighters were sent to the blaze.
The 17 people in the flats above had to be rescued by fire fighters wearing breathing apparatus and three people were treated for smoke inhalation.
The fire was under control by 7.05am.
More updates will follow.