SLEEPY COUPLE IN FIRE DRAMA; Neighbour calls 999 as pair doze on.
A YOUNG couple had a lucky escape after they accidentally left a chip pan on and fell asleep.
Jamie Rignall and Carlie Dunn, from Hemlington, were pulled from their bed by firefighters after a neighbour heard their smoke alarm and dialled 999.
The pair had been celebrating a wedding all day Saturday and were feeling peckish when they returned to their flat in Fairfax Court in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Despite having a smoke alarm fitted in the flat, neither Jamie nor Carlie heard it, and had it not been for a light-sleeping neighbour, they might not have been here to tell the tale.
Jamie, 24, who works in marketing, said: "I think I must have put the pan on and then just fallen asleep. The fire brigade had to come in and wake us up.
"I can't thank them enough.
They were great lads and they saved our lives. They have even brought us a deep fat frier round, so I won't be using a chip pan again.
"We're going round to see our neighbour later today to thank him."
Fire appliances from Coulby Newham and Thornaby fire stations attended the scene at 4.23am on Sunday.
Heavy smoke damage was caused to the kitchen and light smoke damage was caused to the rest of the flat.
Carlie, 19, also a marketing assistant, said: "I can't believe I slept through it. I'm usually a light sleeper."
Coulby Newham watch manager Darran Farndale said: "The chip pan was still on fire when we got there and smoke was really starting to clog up the flat.
"Two occupants were asleep in the bed, but we managed to rouse them and lead them to safety.
"If it hadn't been for the neighbour hearing the smoke alarm, this would have been a very different story."
In the light of this latest incident, Cleveland Fire Brigade has once again appealed for Teessiders to throw away their chip pans as part of its Ban the Pan Forever campaign.
To arrange a free home fire safety check and, where appropriate, have free smoke alarms fitted, call 01429 874063.
CLOSE CALL: Jamie Rignall with the chip pan that could have cost him his life Picture by PETER REIMANN