Staff evacuated in Portsmouth supermarket fire drama

114335-022_CO_OP_FIRE_SR_10/12/11'Fire fighters remove a sign behind which a fire broke out at the Co-op store in London Road Portsmouth on Saturday morning.''Picture:Steve Reid 114335-022
114335-022_CO_OP_FIRE_SR_10/12/11'Fire fighters remove a sign behind which a fire broke out at the Co-op store in London Road Portsmouth on Saturday morning.''Picture:Steve Reid 114335-022

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SUPERMARKET workers had to evacuate after a member of the public spotted the roof was on fire.

Workers were setting up for the day at the Co-op, formerly Somerfield, in London Road, North End, when a passer-by ran in at 7.45am on Saturday to tell them the shop’s sign was alight.

Firefighters from Southsea used a platform ladder to investigate whether the fire had spread inside the roof and it was not until 11.15am that staff were allowed back in the building.

Colin Hayward, operations manager at the store, said: ‘We know there was an electrical fault in the sign.

‘That managed to catch fire to the side of the building but there were no fire damage in the store itself.

‘We were first made aware of it by someone who was walking past and saw smoke.

‘Everyone was evacuated in less than a minute.

‘We were allowed in at about 11.15am but we have to wait until the electrician has given us the all clear and then check all the refrigeration systems are okay.’ London Road remained open despite a large part of the road at the front of the shop being cordoned off.