A TORTOISE has been rescued from a house fire on Christmas Day after neighbours heard a smoke alarm and alerted emergency services.

Essex County Fire and Rescue crews were called to a property in Dutton Hill, Great Dunmow just before 4.30pm on December 25. On arrival firefighters found a house which was smoke logged with a fire in one of the rooms.

They quickly extinguished the fire and cleared the property of smoke by 4.50pm.

According to watch manager Gary Wain, from Great Dunmow Fire Station, the blaze started after the tortoise knocked over its heat lamp.

"The fire started after the tortoise knocked a heat lamp onto its bedding, which then caught alight,’’ he said.

"This incident shows just how important it is to have smoke alarms on every level of your home - even if you're not home they will alert anyone close by to the first sign of fire.

"This tortoise has had a very lucky Christmas Day - he is 45 years young and will now hopefully continue to live a long and happy life thanks to working smoke alarm.’’