House left unlivable after vivarium fire in Boydin Close, Witham

This property in Witham is awaiting repairs after a pet tank caught fire in the living room. Picture

This property in Witham is awaiting repairs after a pet tank caught fire in the living room. Picture: ABBIE WEAVING - Credit: Archant

A family have been left homeless after their house in Essex was destroyed by smoke and fire.

A neighbour called 999 after seeing flames take hold of the property in Boydin Close, Witham, just after 11am today.

The fire started in a vivarium, which is a container used to keep animals, such as reptiles, in conditions similar to their natural environment.

No one was inside the house when firefighters arrived, which is reportedly home to a mother and her four children.

Paul Scott, 71, who rang the fire brigade, said: “I woke up and heard an alarm going off [elsewhere] and found smoke in my house. There wasn’t a lot but it was in the air.”

Failing to find the cause, Mr Scott went out for the morning, but on his return around 10.30am could still smell smoke and decided to ring the emergency services.

“I came back and my alarm was going off. The fireman and I looked round and couldn’t find anything, so the fireman went next door,” he added, where smoke was coming out through his neighbour’s roof tiles.

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The property is apparently rented and the landlord is due to start repairing the house soon.

A spokesman for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: “Fire crews were called to a house fire this morning after being alerted by a neighbour.

“On arrival, firefighters found no one was inside the property and a pet vivarium was alight. They were able to extinguish the fire by 12.03pm, having contained it to the living room.

“Firefighters then used a Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV) fan to clear the house of smoke, which has been completely smoke damaged and left uninhabitable.”

Two fire crews, one from Witham and one from Great Baddow, attended.

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