Firefighters spent four hours tackling a severe house fire on Hawthornden Close in Uttoxeter last night.
"We would urge smokers to be absolutely certain they have properly extinguished cigarettes before disposing of them."
East Staffordshire Assistant Area Commander, Brian Griffiths
Crews from Uttoxeter, Abbots Bromley, Tutbury and Longton were called to the semi-detached property at 6.45pm following reports of a house fire.
Firefighters used two main jets and two hose reel jets to tackle the fire, which destroyed the entire ground floor of the property. The first floor and roof space has also suffered from fire damage, however firefighters managed to stop the fire from spreading to the neighbouring property. The two elderly occupants were already outside on arrival.
East Staffordshire Assistant Area Commander, Brian Griffiths said: "This was a very severe house fire, the fire spread very quickly and it was lucky that the couple managed to get out in time and were unharmed.
"This incident serves as a reminder to all members of the of public that although smoke alarms save lives, they do not prevent fires occurring in the first place.
"The man had been smoking in the lounge, had tipped the contents of his ashtray into a wicker bin, next to an armchair, and then popped outside for only a few minutes. When he returned the bin had set alight and quickly spread to the chair and other furniture.
"Crews were informed that the man had gone back into the property with a hose pipe in an attempt to tackle the fire, which had by this time taken hold and had consumed the whole of the first floor living and dining room. Fortunately a neighbour managed to hold back the occupier and prevent him from re-entering the house a second time.
"The occupier realises his mistake in not disposing of the cigarette appropriately however it happens all too often and as this incident shows, it can ruin lives.
"We would urge smokers to be absolutely certain they have properly extinguished cigarettes before disposing of them in a suitable ashtray that can’t tip over easily and is made of a material that won’t burn. Never put the cigarette or ash into a wastebasket containing other rubbish or a bin made of combustible material such as wicker or plastic. We also strongly advise members of the public that they should not re-enter their property when there is a fire."
Firefighters will be in the area over the next few days speaking to local people about fire safety and offering free Home Fire Risk Checks.
Assistant Area Commander Brian Griffiths added: "During a free Home Fire Risk Check we will survey each room in the property and identify any potential fire hazards. We want to help you stay safe in your homes and so urge people to take us up on our offer of a free Home Fire Risk Check and pay attention to our advice."