Officers praised for rescuing two men and toddler from South Norwood shop blaze
Two police officers have been hailed as heroes after rescuing two men and a two-year-old boy trapped above a shop fire.
High Street in South Norwood was closed off as eight fire engines and 58 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Nisa Supermarket in High Street, South Norwood, shortly before 11am on Monday.
Detective Sergeant Mick Woollard and Detective Constable Neal Pryce, from the Metropolitan Police’s road death investigation unit at Catford, were travelling along the High Street when they came across the scene before firefighters arrived.
Seeing the crowd of people the officers pulled over and discovered there were still people inside the flats above the burning shop.
The pair fought through thick smoke to break down the door to the flats and helped two men and a two-year-old boy out.
Speaking after the incident, DS Woollard said: "Most people had already evacuated from the surrounding flats, but we were told there were people still inside the flats above the shop.
"We were just concerned at getting everybody out quickly and safely. The smoke inside was very thick, but we made sure we helped everybody we could to get out, before getting out ourselves and waiting for the fire brigade."
The boy and a 35-year-old man were taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service and treated for smoke inhalation, but both have since been discharged.
One witness, who did not want to be named, said the shop owner had told her the fire was started by an electrical fault.
The shopowner is understood to have run out of the shop when she saw the flames and called emergency services.
The witness said: "She told me it started smoking slightly then all of a sudden it was really bad, apparently the shop is completely black and the flats have smoke damage."
The fire was under control by 12.27pm, but the High Street remained closed at the junction with Oliver Grove and Portland Road, until about 6pm when one lane was re-opened.
The closure caused traffic chaos in the area.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it is not being treated as suspicious.
Croydon borough commander, Chief Superintendent Richard Wood praised the action of the officers.
He said: "Thanks to their quick thinking and actions a tragic disaster has potentially been avoided."