A fire broke out at a house in Caxton after a candle was left unattended, which could have led to the sleeping residents “drowning in toxic smoke”.

One crew from Gamlingay and one from Huntingdon were called to Brockholt Road at 12.02am yesterday (Sunday), after the fire started in the bathroom of the property. A tea light had been left burning after the residents went to bed, causing towels and a dressing gown to catch fire and flames to spread.

The residents were out of the house by the time the firefighters arrived, after being alerted by a smoke alarm. A man in his 80s had attempted to put the fire out with an extinguisher which led to him inhaling a large amount of smoke. He was given oxygen therapy by firefighters and was left in the care of the ambulance service. An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said that they sent a rapid response car and a hazardous area response team (HART) vehicle after being called at 12.53am, before checking the patient over. He did not need to be taken to hospital.

They extinguished the flames and used fans to clear the smoke, before returning to base by 1.40am.

Crew commander Ben Fawcitt said: "It is without a doubt that a working smoke alarm in this property saved the lives of the residents. Without it they may not have woken up and been alerted to the fire so quickly, and could have ended up drowning in toxic smoke.

"This incident is a reminder that even a small candle can cause a fire, so please ensure you never leave candles unattended and always place candles on an even surface.

"We would also like to remind people that if they discover a fire, the best thing to do is to shut the door, get out, stay out, and dial 999. Never try and tackle a fire as you may end up as a casualty yourself."