Three fire engines and numerous fire fighters were called out to the smell of burning.

An eyewitness spotted the melee near Mario's barbers in West Wickham earlier this afternoon.

An onlooker claimed two police cars and a dozen police officers were accompanying the fire service.

Despite cordoning off part of West Wickham Road, the two engines from Addington and one from Norbury were not greeted with flames.

John Watts, a barber at Mario's, said: "Apparently the flat above the shop next door was heating up.

"Next door thought there was something going on. Police are back now but the fire brigade have gone."

Mr Watts, from Croydon, added: "They thought there was a possibility of fire upstairs.

"I don't know if they [flat occupants] are in. There's no fire that I can see."

A spokesman for the London Fire Brigade said: "We were called at 11.33am to the smell of burning, but there's no fire apparently.

"On inspection there doesn't appear to be anything there."

They added they left at 11.59am.