A couple have been left devastated after a blaze virtually destroyed the family business they have run for 29 years.
An electrical fault is thought to have started the fire in an office at the back of Trend DIY in Green Street on Friday night.
Firefighters and police were called to the building by members of the public when smoke was seen billowing from the shop.
It happened only 40 minutes after owner Harry Papadopoulos and wife Haroula had locked up for the day. The couple rushed from their home nearby and tried to get into the shop but were overcome with smoke.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus put the fire out and police were called to direct traffic as the stretch of road was closed for more than an hour.
The office at the shop has been completely destroyed and the majority of the merchandise is smoke damaged.
Mr Papadopoulos told the Gazette, “Almost 30 years of my life has been destroyed. We are devastated. Everything is smoke damaged and it will be a long time before we are able to open again.
“I received a call from the people next door to the shop on Friday evening and myself and Haroula rushed back. The fire investigators say it is an electrical fault on an appliance in the office.”
Mr Papadopoulos said he wanted to thank the Old Town community for their messages of support and kindness.
“We will certainly be back,” said the shop owner, who believes Trend DIY is the oldest ironmongers in the town as it has been there since the turn of the century and was previously known as Simmons.
A spokesperson for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said, “Firefighters were called at 6.06pm to reports of a fire a shop. Crews attended the premises on Green Street and discovered the fire was in the rear office of the property.
“They used a hose reel, a main jet and a thermal imaging camera as well as fans to clear the smoke. An ambulance was requested for a man and a woman suffering from shock.”
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said, “We assisted with traffic control during a fire at Trends DIY shop just after 6pm. Two peoople were treated for the effect of shock and smoke inhalation and the fire was treated as non-suspicious.”