A COUPLE were out for the day when they received a call from the fire service to say their house was on fire.

Gemma Hothersall and her fiance Alan Houghton were at a family event in St Helens when they found out their home in Collingwood, Clayton-le-Moors, had gone up in flames.

Two crews from Accrington fire station spent almost two hours battling the blaze, which was started by a faulty extractor fan in their en-suite bathroom.

They were alerted to the fire by a dog walker who spotted sparks coming from the roof at around 5.15pm on Saturday.

Miss Hothersall, a 31-year-old teacher, praised the firefighters after they prevented the damage from spreading beyond the bathroom.

She said: “The drive back from St Helens was the longest journey of our lives.

“The fire brigade managed to use our house phone and get hold of my mum, Pat, who was on her way to Mass.

“She rang me and then we left straight away. The firemen were amazing, they’re really good at calming you down, I can’t thank them enough.”

The couple’s dog, Buddy, and two kittens, Stanley and Pippa, were rescued by the firefighters. They were uninjured.

Mr Houghton, a designer, said the couple had only moved into the house a month ago and were under the impression the fan did not work.

He said they would have to renovate the upstairs bathroom in the New Year, which would probably cost thousands of pounds.

Ash has also caused some minor damage to the couple’s adjoining bedroom, and they will have to sleep elsewhere until the fire service has carried out a full assessment of the incident.

Mr Houghton said: “The firefighters deserve great credit for what they do on a limited budget.

“We’re also very grateful to the passer-by who rang the fire brigade. We’re quite lucky it was dark because otherwise he wouldn’t have noticed the sparks.

“Because the smoke was rising our smoke alarm didn’t pick it up. If he hadn’t noticed it we might not be standing here in the living room now.”