FIVE people have been left homeless following a flat fire in Grays this morning.

Firefighters were called at around 5.15am after an electrical fault sparked the blaze in the Londis shop in High Street and spread to the flat above.

Five people escaped the blaze before the fire service arrived but have been left homeless after the fire spread and their property was left heavily smoke damaged.

Assistant divisional officer John Harris, from Grays fire station, said: “There was no smoke detection system in the shop or the flats so if it had been earlier in the morning and they were soundly asleep we could have had fatalities.

“They had a lucky escape, it could have been a whole lot worse – it is the responsibility of the landlord to install a detection system.”

It is thought the alarm was raised by someone who spotted smoke coming from the shop downstairs.

Ten firefighters used breathing apparatus and two hose reel jets to extinguish the blaze by 7.42am.

ADO Harris added: “The flat was 60 per cent smoke logged when we arrived and suffered heavy smoke damage.

“It was an electrical fire that started in the shop below and spread up through the floorboards.

“The shop is ruined as most of their ceiling is down and there is damage to some of the beams.”

An ambulance crew was requested by the fire service to treat one man suffering from breathing difficulties.