A family in St Neots have praised their “incredible” eight-month-old puppy, after it stopped a potentially devastating fire from breaking out in their house while they slept.

Martin Bornman, of Lansbury Close, was woken in the early hours of the morning on November 17 to the sound of barking from the family's Labrador retriever, Dumbledog, who had been sleeping in the conservatory.

Leaving his wife, Lindy, 40, and his nine-year-old daughter, Amber, upstairs, Martin, 48, climbed out of bed around 4.10am, but was soon hit by plumes of smoke as he made his way through the house.

"I went downstairs and there was smoke everywhere," he said.

"It was potent. It was the kind that burns the back of your throat."

Seeing smoke in the lounge and coming from a vent on the side of the conservatory, Martin opened the door on Dumbledog who dashed out past him - this room too filled with smoke.

"I went back upstairs and alerted Lindy and Amber and told them to stand outside while I tried to get to the source of the smoke," he recalled.

"Amber was scared, but when I told her what was going on she just kept telling Dumbledog to get away to the front door - he was quite upset with all the smoke.

"I could smell the burning - it smelt like wires burning. We only moved house in February and I thought it might be something electrical and wrong with the house."

With his family standing by the front door, Martin hurried back into the conservatory to find oil all over the wooden floor after the bottom of a heater had burst during the night.

"Luckily it hadn't ignited," he said."[If Dumbledog hadn't been there] it would've been bad. You hear awful stories about people getting trapped in houses. It's quite incredible he's done something like that. We are very grateful."

Seeing the oil coming from the heater, Martin quickly unplugged it before throwing it on the garden lawn, leaving the family and Dumbledog unscathed.

He says he still doesn't know why it burst, and that he didn't call emergency services because, thanks to Dumbledog, a fire didn't start.

Since then, the family pet has been allowed to sleep wherever he likes, and that, after he was checked over by a vet, was treated to a large steak following the ordeal.

"He's part of the family and we love him very much," Martin said, explaining how Dumbledog was named after the family's love of Harry Potter and the boy wizard's headmaster, Dumbledore.

"We never thought he would play this role - it's just incredible.

"He's very clever. It's just great that an animal can do something like that."