A trader has spoken of the “frightening” fire which devastated a flat above a shop this afternoon.

The blaze took hold of the home above Muswell Hill Food and Wines in Colney Hatch Lane in Muswell Hill, and seemed likely to spread to the shop below.

Nail technician Teddy Ho was working in Nail Haven opposite the first-floor flat when he started to see crowds gathering outside and four fire engines and police arrive in the snow just after 1pm.

He said: “Firefighters started working but the fire was big – they took some time before they started to go in.

“The fire became quite big – it came out of the window, it was quite frightening.”

He stayed inside the nail bar with clients because he was fearful it could explode if there was gas near the property.

Fortunately, fire crews put the fire out at 2.19pm as it began to reach the shop below.

The flat was gutted by the fire, with two windows smashed and blackened by the smoke.

Mr Ho said the shopkeepers working in the grocers below did not know there was a fire and continued selling their wares until firefighters from Hornsey and Finchley fire stations arrived.

However, the shop has now stopped trading for the day.

Mr Ho added: "The shopkeeper didn't know there was a fire, he was still selling things downstairs.

"I don't think they're allowed to open. I don't think they're selling at the moment, there's no light - it's quite dark."

No one was injured in the blaze, and Mr Ho believes the flat was empty as it had a letting sign outside.

Police closed Colney Hatch Lane while the fire was extinguished and investigations were carried out at the scene.

Police and the fire brigade are now investigating the cause of the fire.