A HOME has been left uninhabitable after an unattended tea light set alight to a blind and started a house fire.

Firefighters were called to a property in Raphael Drive, Chelmsford, at about 6.50pm on Thursday.

The two-storey house was unoccupied but luckily a neighbour spotted the fire and called 999.

Watch Manager Gavin Ellis said: "The lounge was 50 per cent alight and the rest of the house had filled with smoke when we arrived, but crews did a really good job of limiting the damage.

"The occupier had lit a tea light on the window sill and forgot to put it out when she left the property.

"The blind caught alight and the fire spread to the window sill, blankets on the sofa and the sofa itself.

"Please follow our safety advice when using candles and tea lights - make sure they are not near flammable materials and make sure they are fully out before you leave them unattended."

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The fire was completely extinguished by 7.21pm, but the smoke damage has left the home temporarily uninhabitable.

Mr Ellis said the property had three working smoke alarms, which would have proved vital in different circumstances.

He said: "If the occupiers had gone to bed and left the tea light burning, the smoke alarms would have given them a chance to get out.

"This incident highlights the importance of having working smoke alarms; so make sure you test yours at least once a month."

Here is Essex Fire Service's safety advice for tea lights and candles:

  • Make sure candles and tea lights are away from materials that may catch fire – like curtains and blinds
  • Put candles out when you leave the room or property, and make sure they’re put out completely at night
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room, but avoid drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, sooting, and excessive dripping
  • Trim the wick to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring
  • Don’t move candles once they are lit
  • Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause flaring