A man described at the ‘pillar of the community’ has been rushed to hospital following a fire in Walton.
Emergency services were called during the early hours of Monday morning to reports of a fire in Walton Village.
Three fire engines rushed to the scene shortly before 3am after reports of a blaze breaking out at a flat above a shop.
READ MORE:Woman fighting for her life after being hit by car as two arrested
Merseyside Police has since confirmed that a man was taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.
Residents were “shocked” as they were woken at around 3am to flashing lights and “loud noises”.
One resident, who lives opposite the newsagents, told the ECHO it was “random”.
She said: “We heard a load of noise and we thought it was people arguing but we woke up and saw thick smoke. It was all you could see and smell.
“It’s really sad something like this has happened, that shop has been there for years.”
Another said: “It’s awful to hear something has happened. I did not even know there was a fire until I saw the cordon this morning, it’s just awful.”
A third added: “It’s such a horrible thing to have happened. We heard the fire crews around 3am.”
A joint investigation is now underway with MFRS and CCTV, forensic and house-to-house inquiries are ongoing.
Road closures are in place in Walton Village while inquiries are carried out and motorists are advised to avoid the area where possible.
A passer-by said it “could not have happened to a nicer person”.
Another added: “It’s not long all been done up, it’s such a shame. He’s a lovely man who lives there. He never has a bad word to say about anyone.
“I pop in the shop after work for a few bits and he’s always happy to help.
“It was quite a shock to hear what happened, it’s quite a quiet place around here. The whole community gets along and loves him, it’s a real community hub.”
A third said: “It’s such a shame. It’s a popular little shop that and the fella is lovely.
“We did not hear anything until we saw the cordon this morning when we were walking the dogs but then when we came back they’d brought it back a bit.”
Fire crews left the scene at 7.19am, however there is still an emergency services presence at the scene as investigations remain ongoing.
Acting Chief Inspector Phil Cowin said: “We are in the very early stages of an investigation into a fire in the early hours of this morning.
“We are working with MFRS to follow a number of lines of inquiry and establish the full circumstances. I would appeal to anyone in the Walton Village area in the early hours of this morning with any information to contact us.
“Similarly if you were driving in the area and have dashcam footage then please review it and let us know if you see anything or anyone suspicious.
“All information you hold could be vital to our inquiries so please come forward and we will do the rest.”
If you have any information about the incident, quote log 76 of 31/01 via Merseyside Police social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook ‘Merseyside Police Contact Center’.
You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information.
A statement from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said: “Fire crews have attended a serious fire at a flat above a shop in Walton Village, Walton, Liverpool in the early hours of this morning.
“Three fire engines and an aerial appliance are in attendance.
“Crews were alerted at 2.57am and on scene at 3.04am.
“Crews quickly requested the attendance of an aerial appliance as the fire was breaking through the roof of the building.
“Four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the flat and began fighting the fire using high pressure hose reels while searching for occupants.
“Firefighters are fighting the fire in the roof space of the building and are checking for fire spread in neighboring properties.
“Merseyside Police and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) are in attendance at the incident, which is ongoing.”
Receive newsletters with the latest news, sports and what’s on updates from the Liverpool ECHO by signing up here