Two families have been made homeless after a fire started outside a house and spread through the roof.
Crews were called to a semi-detached house in Winbrook Close, Rayleigh, in the early hours of Monday morning and on arrival reported that two houses were 50% alight.
Firefighters began dividing the incident into sections to allow them to surround it and bring it under control.
Watch Manager Mark Taylor, Rayleigh Weir, said: “Following an investigation the cause of the fire has been recorded as accidental, and began after a heat lamp in a tortoise enclosure caught alight.
“The enclosure was on wooden decking outside the property, and the fire quickly spread to a garden pagoda, up through the house, into the roof and across to the neighbour’s roof.
“This incident shows how smoke alarms save lives – although the families were asleep when the fire started, they were both woken by their smoke alarms, which gave them time to safely get out of their houses and call 999.
Firefighters extinguished the fire by 5.05am. Both houses have been completely destroyed.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service is committed to ensuring 100% of homes in Essex have a working smoke alarm. So, to help this happen, they carry out home safety visits to anyone living in Essex, completely FREE of charge.
What a home safety visit involves:
• Identifying and making you aware of the potential fire risks in your home
• Making sure you know what to do in order to reduce or prevent these risks
• Helping you put together an escape plan in case a fire breaks out in the future
• Ensuring you have a working smoke alarm and if you don’t, we will fit a FREE ten year smoke alarm. To arrange a home safety visit for yourself or someone else call us on 0300 303 0088 or complete the online form at www.essex-fire.gov.uk