A HOME has been left “uninhabitable” after a tumble dryer caught fire while the owners were out.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is warning people not to leave their homes while an appliance is switched on after they tackled a blaze in Marshfield, Colehill, near Wimborne.

Neighbours called 999 when they spotted thick, black smoke billowing from the property’s windows yesterday morning.

Four fire engines were sent to put out the fire, which started on the ground floor of the house, with smoke spreading to the first floor.

Fire safety manager Stuart Granger said the fire was “in its advanced stages” when the crews arrived.

“The smoke levels were at waist height on the ground floor and had moved to the first floor. The occupants were fortunately out at the time, but the fire had had a period of time to grow.”

Using four breathing apparatus, two hose reel jets and a thermal imaging camera, firefighters from Wimborne, Poole, Ferndown, and Redhill Park stations managed to extinguish the blaze by 11.30am.

“The important thing is the premises unfortunately didn’t have smoke detectors – the first sign of the fire was when the neighbours spotted black smoke coming out of the windows,” Mr Granger said.

All but one of the upstairs bedrooms have been damaged by heat and smoke as the occupants left the doors open.

He said: “The message is: number one: ensure smoke smoke detectors are in place and they are tested regularly. Number two: don’t turn on appliances when you’re not going to be in the premises. Only use them when you’re at home.

“We tried to find what make and model the tumble dryer was, but, unfortunately, it was so badly damaged we couldn’t tell, and the owner couldn’t recall the make,” he added.

The occupants of the house will be unable to return home for a “considerable amount of time” due to the damage, which has left all the rooms “uninhabitable”, he said.

“Effectively, the house needs a complete deep clean. The fire in the kitchen was enough to melt the windows.

“The fire damage was localised, but smoke is the problem and the killer. If the neighbour hadn’t spotted the fire, it would have spread even wider.”