A FAMILY were forced to flee their home in the middle of the night after a discarded cigarette may have set fire to the kitchen.

Terry Bolan and his partner, Concheeta Grech, were in the house with their four young children when a blaze began to spread across the house in New Bank Road.

After being alerted to the fire by smoke alarms in the house the family were able to escape at 2am.

But Mr Bolan said he was unsure what had caused the blaze but firefighters believe it may have been started by a cigarette.

He said: "We heard the alarms going off and when we woke up the house was full of black smoke.

"We quickly got all the children outside and before we knew what was going on the firefighters were here. It was pretty scary."

Fifteen firefighters spent two hours tackling the inferno which was in danger of engulfing the house.

The kitchen was completely destroyed by the blaze.

Today, fire chiefs issued a warning about the dangers of discarding smoking materials.

Barry Hornsby, watch manager at Blackburn Fire Station, said a discarded cigarette fell into a basket of laundry causing the fire.

He said: "These people are incredibly lucky that they had smoke alarms fitted and they managed to get out of alive as this was a very serious fire.

"We always advise people to discard of smoking materials in a container.

“This shows how easy it is for fires to start.

“Even when people think the cigarettes are out they may not be fully out.

"I hope this family learn a lesson from this incident and it will ensure that they never do anything like this again in the future.”

The rest of the house was left smoke damaged.