A FAMILY'S home was saved from burning down – by a pair of knickers.
Jenny Marsey's cotton wonderpants were used to put out a frying pan fire after her son and nephew tried to fry some bread.
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The fire got worse when son John, 18, threw some water over the blaze.
But his quick-thinking cousin Darren Lines grabbed the size 18-20 Marks & Spencer underwear from a pile of washing, doused them in water, and threw them over the frying pan.
Jenny, from Meryl Gardens, Hartlepool, said: "My 4.99 parachute knickers have come in handy for something. We've had a good laugh that they were a bit like a fire blanket."
The drama unfolded at 2pm on Sunday, while Jenny, 53, was enjoying a five-course meal at the Toby Carvery, near Wolviston.
John, currently looking for work, said: "I took my eye off the pan for about three seconds when my cousin came to the door.
"I got back and it was unreal. The ceiling was black and there were clouds of smoke, like a tyre was on fire. There was no visibility whatsoever and the extractor fan dropped onto the pan.
"First of all, I chucked water on. I thought it would be okay because the electricity had tripped, but it just made it worse and it totally sizzled. My cousin grabbed the first thing he could get hold off. We had to keep going in and out for air because we couldn't breathe."
The cousins told Jenny, who runs Cakes 4 All, not to return until they had cleaned up the house and emulsioned the ceiling four times before she got home.
Jenny, who is also mum to Sarah, 23, Joanne, 24, and Donna, 27, said: "I think it was my nephew who saved the day with my knickers. I said 'Were my tea-towels no good?'
"I've got no white sets now, only black ones. I think if they had been my daughter Sarah's skimpy knickers they wouldn't have done any good.
We can laugh about it now, but last night I was sat in the sitting room just crying.
"I couldn't believe how lucky we were."
Darren, 23, an apprentice mechanic from Dalry Grove, Hartlepool, said: "I couldn't find anything, so I just put the knickers on the fire and it went out. I was a bit scared and then the extractor fan caved in."
A spokesman for Stranton Fire Station, in Hartlepool, which sent one appliance to the scene, said: "They did the right thing in the end. We advise everyone to get fire safety advice."
Anyone wanting fire safety advice should contact Cleveland Fire Brigade on (01429) 872311.