A HUGE fire has ripped through a fire place shop in Waltham Abbey. 

Just before 5am fire fighters from eight stations were called to Cartersfield Road off Brooker Road.

On arrival crews found half of the building, which is one storey and measures around 40 metres by 60 metres, was on fire.

They used an aerial ladder platform to spray water on the blaze.

It is believed the fire started in the building behind Hartely Stoves, which caught alight along with Abbey Tack Shop, Abbey Motorists Centre and two others.

All have been extensively damaged, with a further two nearby buildings affected by smoke.

At 6.38am firefighters reported that two units within the building - which are used by separate companies - were both still alight.

At its peak around 40 fire fighters were battling the flames. 

Incident Commander Phil Pidgeon said: "Fire crews did a fantastic job this morning to contain the fire and prevent it spreading so quickly.

"The fact that two of the business premises escaped major damage from an intense fire like this is testament to the hard work and professionalism of all of our firefighters who were involved.

"I know those business owners will be very thankful for their efforts

Chris Leith, an accounts manager for Crown Flooring, was driving along Cartersfield Road when he spotted the flames just before 5am.

"I thought someone must be burning materials," the 33 year-old said. 

"I parked up and called the fire brigade who said someone had already called.

"It was quite bad. I could hear the crackling of wood.

"When I came back at 6.15am there was a man in normal clothes on the phone. He said he owned the place."

At 7.28am fire fighters had surrounded the blaze and were some way to getting it under control. 

By 8.38am the fire was out.

When salesmen arrived at work at a car dealers down the road, they discovered their show vehicles covered in ash.

A garage worker who occupied the building until last year guessed it was about 60 years old. 

An investigation into the cause of the fire will now be carried out.

More to follow.