A METER reader has been hailed a hero for his prompt action in stopping a fire spreading to neighbouring homes.

Tim Lovell was reading meters in Middlesbrough when he saw smoke coming out of a house in Magdalen Street.

He called the fire brigade and went to the house to see if anyone was inside, but was reassured by a neighbour that the owner had gone out. Then he alerted people in neighbouring houses and advised them to get out.

His prompt action on Monday was praised by the Cleveland Fire Brigade, which arrived on the scene and got the fire under control.

Leading firefighter Eddy Thompson said: "The meter reader's prompt action helped to avoid the spread of fire and damage to the property. Thanks to his quick-thinking in alerting us and other residents in the area, the fire was confined to one room."

Meter operations manager of MeterPlus, npower's meter reading division, Graham Jefferies said: "We are very proud of the action that Tim took."