An electric heater sparked a fire on board a houseboat near Huntingdon last night (Tuesday).

A man was woken by his smoke alarm at about 9.15pm and saw flames coming from an electric heater on his boat at Hartford Marina. He went to get a fire extinguisher but by the time he returned, the smoke was too thick and he left the boat.

The fire then spread to a 27ft leisure boat next to the houseboat.

Another houseboat's exterior suffered heat damage.

Firefighters from Huntingdon, St Ives and Cambridge extinguished the blaze and cooled gas cylinders, which were on the boat, to stop them from exploding.

Station commander Martin Ockenden said: "This was a particularly challenging incident due to limited access to the boats. The crews did well to cool the cylinders and contain the fire to prevent it spreading further.

"This incident highlights the importance of having working smoke alarms in houseboats. In this case the alarm alerted the resident who was sleeping at the time the fire started. Care should also be taken when using electric heaters. Switch them off when you leave the home or go to bed."

The crews were back at base by 12.30am.