The two people who died in a blaze on waste ground in Streatham last night are believed to have been Polish rough sleepers.

The fire brigade found the bodies of a man and a woman at 2.10am on the patch of land at the Streatham High Road at the junction with Lewin Road.

A 54-year-old man who escaped the inferno was taken to hospital with burns and smoke inhalation and was described as being in a stable condition this afternoon.

Police confirmed that the injured man is also Polish and the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

The isolated area opposite Streatham Common is enclosed on all sides, covered at the front by an advertising hoarding and a black fence, and at the back by a small block of flats.

The 24-hour security staff at a nearby building site heard and saw nothing of the blaze.

The entrance to the overgrown site is small and tucked away and would have made escape difficult in an emergency.

This morning the area was cordoned off with police tape manned by two policemen.

Homeless people nearby said that the wasteland was a well known refuge used mostly by Polish rough sleepers.

They said there may well have been more people staying there who managed to escape.

They believe the trio had probably lit a fire to cook their food and it had got out of control.

Police said they are keeping an open mind "regarding the circumstances of the fire and the deaths".

In March, actress Joanna Lumley launched Lambeth Council's campaign pledging to end rough sleeping in the borough by the end of the year.

The deaths have shocked the local community.

John Goode, from Streatham, said: "I think that it’s absolutely terrible. It’s getting cold now and they were probably just trying to stay warm. It is such a shame people have to live like that."

Sarah, another local resident, said: "We need to do more to help homeless people, particularly when the weather’s bad. There should be sheltered housing or at least a safe place to stay for everyone."