FIREFIGHTERS are urging people to throw out their chip pans after a brother and sister made a lucky escape from a blaze at their home.

The teenage girl and her older brother managed to escape from their house in Redworth Road, Shildon, on Thursday lunchtime after an unattended chip pan burst into flames.

Fire and rescue crews from Bishop Auckland and Newton Aycliffe attended the scene, and four firefighters used breathing apparatus to reach a dog that was trapped upstairs.

But the family pet later died as a result of smoke inhalation and the kitchen was severely damaged by the blaze.

Steve Owers, district manager for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: "A chip pan should never be left unattended, within just a few minutes it can be on fire and out of control.

"If that happens no one should ever try to tackle it, using water makes it worse, just call 999.

"Fortunately these two people escaped uninjured before we got there, but the incident should act as a reminder of the dangers of chip pans.

"I really hope people will take notice and buy a safe deep fat fryer or use oven chips instead."

Mr Owers also urged homeowners to take advantage of the fire brigade's free home safety check service.

For details call 0191-3324222.