London Riots: People evacuated as rioters torch Stroud Green shop

Four flats and a supermarket were evacuated as rioters torched a shop in Stroud Green in the early hours of this morning.

The rear of HiTech Enterprises, on Stroud Green Road, was gutted by flames, forcing frightened Tollington Park residents and staff from the nearby Tesco onto the street at around 1.30am.

Steve Harper, 42, who lives above the shop, said: “I was going to bed when I smelt the smoke. I went out and I could see the flames coming up the side of the building. I tried to warn my house mates, but they thought I was joking and went back to bed and I had to wake them up again. We have no fire escape here so we had to get out through our neighbours flat.

“It was really surreal having watched the trouble all day on the TV, then suddenly it was happening right here below me.”

As residents stood and watched two fire engines tackle the blaze, a crowd of youths gathered and reportedly mocked the evacuees.

Jenny Davies, 25, said: “When we got outside, a group of about 15 to 20 youths gathered and started pointing and laughing at us.

“When the fire engines left I was worried. It only take one person to start and the whole thing could become a riot.”

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Romny Granada, who helped her neighbours escape through her flat, said: “I wrote a play in 2006 and predicted this, I’m just surprised it took this long. I’m not relishing the fact that I saw it coming but saddened that the authorities didn’t read the signs, because it has been bubbling for years.”

Residents in the fourth flat were not alerted to the danger.

Peihua Chung, 30, said: “I can’t believe it, we didn’t hear anything. We slept through the whole thing and the first I knew about it was when I came out of the flat this morning.”

Approximately �4000 damage was caused to computer equipment inside the HiTech Enterprise and police are investigating the fire as arson.

Nasir Sofe, owner of shop, said: “The police called me in the middle of the night to say my shop is on fire. When I came down it was such a shock, it was terrible. This is a small business and it will take a long time to fix.

“These people are just criminals, nothing else. They are thugs, and thieves. They are not doing this for principles, they are doing it for some computers and new trainers.”