A CENTENARIAN escaped from a chip pan blaze thanks to the heroics of a retired firefighter.

Hundred-year-old Eva Kelly narrowly avoided a serious fire in her County Durham home after a pan ignited while she prepared lunch.

Retired firefighter Edmond Spence, 74, was passing and noticed smoke billowing from the property, so rushed in to extinguish the flames.

A fire crew was called at about 12.35pm on Thursday, but when they arrived at the house, in Ferryhill, the blaze had been extinguished.

Mrs Kelly was safely outside the property, covered in a blanket and being attended by a care worker and paramedic.

Watch manager Jason Stafford said: “When we closed the incident and got back in the truck, we all said it was the best possible outcome when we sat and thought about what could have happened.

“The hero of the day was 74 himself, but as an ex-retained firefighter, had knowledge and skills.”

Mr Spence had been about to take his dog for a walk when he saw the smoke and investigated.

He had been a retained firefighter at Ferryhill station and was a firefighter at the Black and Decker factory, in Spennymoor. He put out the fire, removed the pan from the cooker and took it outside.

Mr Stafford said the incident has prompted Durham Fire Brigade to hold a community safety initiative in the neighbourhood.

Officers will next week visit homes in the area around Mrs Kelly’s house, where there are many elderly residents.

Mr Stafford said: “We have been promoting not using chip pans for about ten years, but will go back out there to spread the message.

“We are happy with Mr Spence’s actions and thankfully the outcome was a good one.

“It has also had a positive impact on the community as we will be out there promoting safety in the kitchen. A big part of our work is prevention of accidents.”