A FLAT caught fire after a lit cigarette was thrown in a bin and left unattended.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service were called out to the flat in Mariskals in Pitsea following reports of smoke coming from the flat.

The incident, which happened at 9.20pm on Tuesday, saw two fire engines from Basildon and one from Tillingham attend.

Luckily, all of the flat's occupants had made it out of the flat before being trapped by the fire as they were alerted by their working smoke alarm.

Neighbours in the same block came out to help them escape.

A spokesman for the Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: "Thanks to their working smoke alarm, the occupants were alerted to the fire and were able to get out of the flat.

"Firefighters managed to quickly extinguish the fire and stop it spreading to rest of the property.

"The property has suffered smoke damage, but the fire and heat damage was confined to the bedroom where the fire started.

"Firefighters discovered that the fire had started by a cigarette that had been put in a wicker bin."

Crew Manager Dan Hart said: "It’s absolutely vital you ensure your cigarette is completely out when you’ve finished smoking it.

"If you don’t, you risk causing a fire that could destroy not only your home, but also your life.

"Incidents like this also show how important it is to have a working smoke alarm as it will give you early warning of a fire so you have time to get out, stay out and call the fire service out."