A man is being treated for serious burns following an explosion at a car workshop yesterday.

The man, thought to be in his 30s, suffered burns to the face and arms as flames engulfed Ken's Autos in Limpsfield Road, Warlingham, at around 11.10am. 

He was taken as a priority to St George's Hospital in Tooting by London Ambulance Service (LAS).

A spokeswoman said LAS sent two ambulances, a hazardous area response team and a duty officer to the scene. 

London Fire Brigade sent six engines and 35 officers, who battled to the bring the fire under control for 90 minutes and remained onsite for much of the day to damp down the remains. 

Half of the workshop, part of its roof and two cars were alight

Police evacuated more than 50 people in neighbouring buildings, mostly shops, as a precaution.

Fire station manager Simon Brownings said: "Crews worked hard to bring the fire under control.

“They also worked with the Metropolitan Police to clear the local area and evacuated nearby members of the public."

Yesterday witnesses described hearing a loud bang, feeling the ground shake and seeing smoke billow from the workshop as staff fled.

Kirsty Simpson, 25, owner of Threadbear needlework shop, opposite the garage, said: "We heard the explosion in the shop.

"There was one big one and then a series of smaller ones. Then there was thick black smoke."

A florist, who did not want to be named, said: "There was a massive bang and we could feel the ground moving.

"They ran out of the garage and you could see lots of smoke and flames."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Ken's Autos staff yesterday said it was "too raw" to talk about.