A 21-year-old woman was helped from her burning flat after her neighbour raised the alarm when a pan caught light.
The fire broke out in the first floor in Queens Court in Hartlepool just before 10pm yesterday, when a frying pan of oil was left on the heat unattended.
A neighbour noticed smoke coming from the flat, which is in a three-storey building, and went in to help the woman free, while the smoke alarms had also been set off.
The resident had been in the bathroom dying her hair as the blaze broke out.
She was given oxygen by firefighters after she suffered from shock, but did not go to hospital.
Two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus went into put out the fire, which left the kitchen badly damaged and other areas of the flat smoke damaged.
A thermal imaging camera was used to check the fire was fully extinguished.
Six people were evacuated from the block of flats during the incident.
Watch manager Jason Wood, who is based at Stranton Fire Station, said: "This just goes to show the importance of fire alarms and we're obviously grateful to the neighbour for helping get her to safety.
"It's just another incident where a pan has been left unattended and it shows how easily it can ignite."
Anyone who would like a home fire safety check can contact Cleveland Fire and Rescue Service on 01429 874 063.