A HELPFUL neighbour had a lucky escape after she accidentally left a frying pan on the hob.
Catherine Johnson, who lives in Horden, was preparing a meal for her neighbours who suffer from illnesses which prevent them cooking for themselves.
But after forgetting that she had put a pan on the hob and going outside to chat to a friend, Catherine’s near neighbours heard a smoke alarm and quickly alerted firefighters.
Fire crews from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service raced to the scene and forced their way into the property to discover the smoking oil in the pan.
Fortunately, they managed to put the fire out before any major damage was caused, but stressed the vital role the fire alarm played in Catherine’s lucky escape.
Andrew Allison, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service’s senior community safety manager, said: “Without the smoke alarm alerting the neighbours this fire could have developed and caused major damage to the house.
“As it is, the kitchen just needed a bit of a clean-up from some minor smoke damage.
“The alarm was fitted by us a few months ago as part of a free home fire safety check and without it things could have turned out very differently.”
While the crews were at the scene they also fitted smoke alarms and carried out a free home fire safety check for the neighbours Catherine had been cooking for.
Any east Durham residents who want a free home fire safety check should call (0191) 3324222 or visit www.ddfire.gov.uk