ST DAVID's Hospice Care chief executive Emma Saysell was left devastated after one of her most popular charity shops in Chepstow was gutted by fire this morning (Saturday).

The fire erupted at the shop, in a parade of modern units in Bulwark Road, Bulwark, Chepstow.

Mrs Saysell, who rushed to the scene when alerted this morning, said: "The shop has been destroyed but I am just so very happy and relieved that none of my staff, customers or anyone else was injured in this truly awful fire."

Night worker Kevin Connick, who lives in the flat immediately above the store, told of his relief and is counting his blessings.

Mr Connick, aged 61, was asleep after his night shift at the town's Asda distribution centre when he was awoken by his door's buzzer.

Speaking from the balcony of his flat above the shop front, Mr Connick said: "I was feeling a bit warm in bed and then I heard the fire alarm but didn't think much of it, but then the front door buzzer was going and I knew I needed to get up and out. There was a fireman at the door.

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"The fireman said as it's a very modern building the ceiling of the shop and the floor of my flat had prevented the fire from spreading.

"I feel very lucky. I don't think I'll be going into work this evening - I'll be taking the night off."

The fire is believed to have started at about 11am this morning (Saturday) and was quickly brought under control by fire fighters from three fire engines, one of which came across the bridge from Patchway, Bristol.

Mrs Saysell rushed to the shop from Cardiff where she had been flat hunting for her son.

She said: "This is devastating, the shop has been completely gutted by the fire from back to front and top to bottom.

"I'm just so glad that no-one has been hurt or injured and that my staff - a manager, shop assistant and a volunteer - were able to get out in time."

Mrs Saysell said the fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in the stock room at the back of the shop.

She said: "My manager said the fire took hold incredibly quickly and before very long the whole of the inside of the shop was ablaze.

"It's a very popular shop with our customers who shop there and who also drop off a load of donations as it is easy to park.

"We have quite a bit of stock in the shop"

Deputy chief executive of the charity Adrian Hadley, who joined Mrs Saysell this morning, said: "This is horrendous, the fire has completely gutted this shop. We have lost many thousands of pounds worth of stock in this fire and the shop, which only opened about seven years, will now have to be closed for quite some time.

"I'm just so relieved that no-one has been injured or hurt."

The shop is in a terrace of nine and is bordered by Bargain Booze to the right and William Hill to the left.

An employee of the betting shop, who did not want to give her name, said: "People came in and said that there was a fire nextdoor.

"Then we smelt the smoke and the fire service arrived.

"We got everyone out and have been advised to keep the shop closed for the rest of the day.

"I'm just glad no one was hurt in the fire."

A spokesman for the fire service confirmed that they were called to the scene at 11am and arrived 11.11am.

The fire had been extinguished completely by 12.25pm.

Crews from Chepstow and Avon attended the scene, where three hose reels and two safety jets were used to extinguish the fire.

They are due to return later this afternoon to install thermal heat detectors to check for any possible hotspots.