Twenty-four people had to vacate their flats this morning after a fire broke out at a clothes shop beneath them.

Firefighters from Tooting and Wimbledon were called to Loot, a clothing shop in Mitcham Road, at about 5am after a passenger at a nearby bus stop saw wisps of smoke coming from inside.

A crew member from Wimbledon fire station said it was “very lucky” the fire was caught quickly before it got worse, especially because the 24 residents living in flats above had no smoke alarms.

She said: “Tooting called us to assist and we used specialist apparatus to gain an opening through the metal shutters.

“In the end it must have looked more serious than it actually was, but it’s also fortunate the fire did not start earlier because there might not have been anyone on the street to report it as soon as they did.”

One of the evacuees was a heavily pregnant woman, who was taken to St George’s hospital as a precaution.

A fire investigation team is finding out how the fire started.