UPDATED: Fire in Stamford empties Mercury office

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Thursday, 7pm: A fire engine remains at the scene of a fire in Stamford this afternoon (Thursday).

Slates have been removed from the roof above a flat in a building in Castle Street following the blaze. Some debris has also been removed from the building.

The scene this afternoon in Castle Street

The scene this afternoon in Castle Street

Thursday, 6.15PM: Mercury staff have been allowed back into our office in Sheep Market, Stamford, following a fire which is believed to have started in a flat above the take away Wokbox.

Hundreds of people gathered in Castle Street and Sheep Market after smoke started pouring out of the roof at the noodle bar at about 3pm.

Eight fire engines were called to the scene.

As well as the Mercury office, Alter Ego hairdressers, Colin Bell Menswear and Gooch’s coffee shop were also evacuated and Castle Street was cordoned off to the junction with All Saints Street.

Mercury reader Andrew Hawkins tweeted this photo of the scene in Sheep Market and Castle Street

Mercury reader Andrew Hawkins tweeted this photo of the scene in Sheep Market and Castle Street

All road have now been reopened, although a fire engine remains on the scene.

Mercury editor Eileen Green said: “As soon as we were alerted to the fire, we rang 999 and evacuated our premises. After we had checked no-one was in danger we moved our reporting and production teams to our offices in Oakham and Peterborough.

“I would like to thank the fire service for reacting so prompty and efficiently.”

There are two flats above the noodle bar, which opened earlier this year, and the fire is believed to have started in a flat belonging to John Walker, 52, who works as a barman.

Mercury reader Andrew Hawkins tweeted this photo of the scene in Sheep Market and Castle Street

Mercury reader Andrew Hawkins tweeted this photo of the scene in Sheep Market and Castle Street

He was at a doctors appointment when his landlord called him to tell him about the fire.

He said: “I came back home straight away and saw smoke pouring from the roof. I had only been gone for about 20 minutes but I know I couldn’t have done anything about it.”

Mr Walker has been told by the fire service that he won’t be allowed home for at least two nights.

Zoe Sharpe, 25, of Rutland Heights, Stamford, saw the blaze start.

The scene of the fire as taken from the Mercury's forecourt

The scene of the fire as taken from the Mercury's forecourt

She said: “It just started smoking. At first we thought it was heat haze from the cooking at Wokbox but then we said that’s definitely a fire so we called the fire engines.”

Zoe, who works as a teaching assistant, was in the beer garden at the London Inn.

She said: “Two men went across to check that Wokbox was empty but no-one was there.”

Kristy Hills, 18, a hairdresser at Alter Ego, was giving a customer a trim when they spotted the smoke through the window.

She said: “People started waving from across the road for us to come outside so we ran out to see what was going on. We weren’t scared because all we could see was smoke and we didn’t know what was happening.”

A spokesman for Lincolnshire fire and rescue said at 4.30pm: “It appears at this stage that the fire started in an electrical cupboard in the first floor of the building. Firefighters are still at the scene checking the roof void.”

Thursday, 3.15pm: The Stamford Mercury office has been evacuated because of a fire at a neighbouring property. Smoke is pouring out of the Wok Box, in Castle Market, after a fire broke out just after 3pm.

Staff at the Mercury office, in Sheep Market, took the decision to evacuate themselves, as did staff at a chippy on the other side of the Wok Box.

The takeaway was open at lunchtime but was closed when the fire started.

A crowd has gathered out on the street watching the fire and the emergency services have just arrived.