A FIRE was started after a pan was left cooking when no one was in.

Essex Fire Service were called to Inverness Avenue in Westcliff at around 8.38am

They were alerted after a neighbour spotted the house full of smoke.

A spokesman for the fire service said: "When fire crews arrived, they reported the kitchen was heavily smoke logged. Firefighters gained access to the property and removed a burning pan from on top of the hob. The occupants were not home at the time.

"The property had working smoke alarms - which alerted the neighbours to the fire."

Crew Manager Kim Polley, of Southend Fire Station, said: "It is thanks to their working smoke alarm that this didn't turn into a really serious and damaging house fire. Working smoke alarms can not only alert the occupants to a fire, but often they alert neighbours and passersby to a fire, and the sooner we are called the less damage that is caused.

"More than 75 per cent of all accidental house fires in Essex start in the kitchen - often because of distractions like phone calls or family. So whatever happens elsewhere in your house, always make sure you don't leave your cooking unattended and check everything is off before your leave your house."

Cooking safety advice from the fire service

  • Take care if you need to leave the kitchen whilst cooking, take pans off the heat or turn them down to avoid risk.
  • Avoid leaving children in the kitchen alone when cooking on the hob. Keep matches and saucepan handles out of their reach to keep them safe.
  • Make sure saucepan handles don’t stick out – so they don’t get knocked off the stove.
  • Take care if you’re wearing loose clothing – this can easily catch fire.
  • Keep tea towels and cloths away from the cooker and hob.
  • Double check the cooker is off when you’ve finished cooking.