The manager of a bakery devastated in a fire on Saturday has praised the work of firefighters - despite response times being hampered by strike action.

A fire broke out in the back area of the Village Bakery in Carshalton High Street shortly after midday on Saturday.

Sutton Guardian:

The fire rages at the back of the bakery (pic: Peter Romanov)

Strike action meant the first firefighters on the scene were stand-in crews but they took about 20 minutes to arrive meaning the fire was able to take hold.

It was not until after 1pm that regular firefighters were able to take over the operation.

The fire destroyed the back area of the bakery, where the products are made to be sold in the shop at the front, but owner Marcus Foster has said he plans to reopen the shop as soon as possible and fill it with products made in sister bakeries in Sutton and Cheam while the back area is repaired.

Mr Foster said: "The guys who turned up first, OK it took a short while, but they did brilliantly. They did everything they could, they were incredibly brave because they went in there, but they aren't the London Fire Brigade.

"When the fire brigade turned up they did a brilliant job, I couldn't ask any more of them.

"Had it been the London Fire Brigade from the start, I can't say whether it would have turned out differently.

"They stopped the fire from getting into the shop or the flat above. I thought the whole lot could have gone.

"I support the strikes, this shows how much the fire brigade is needed and how quickly they are needed. I don't support the cuts at all."

It is not clear how the fire started but Mr Foster said the entire bakery section of the shop is destroyed.

Mr Foster said he has been flooded with messages of support and has even had people visiting the sister bakeries in Sutton and Cheam to show their good will.

He added: "It's been really nice, really heart-warming. We've had messages on Twitter, on Facebook, people coming into the bakeries.

"It shows there is still a village community in Carshalton. It's really nice to see. I'm reliant on the support of my customers and hopefully we'll be open again as soon as possible."

The Village Bakery has been a bakery since 1896 and has been owned by Mr Foster's family for 25 years. Prior to that it was owned by a friend of the family.