FIREFIGHTERS saved the life of a man found slumped unconscious as a blaze swept through his Sheffield home.
Other residents were forced to flee their homes when the fire broke out in a block of flats on Preston Road, Lowfield, Sheffield.
The 45-year-old had to be rescued by firefighters from his flat after accidentally setting fire to his bed.
His ground-floor property was left badly damaged following the blaze in the early hours of the morning, and four other residents had to evacuate their flats as smoke spread.
Watch manager Steve Womack, from Sheffield’s Central fire station, said firefighters initially thought the man was unconscious and not breathing - before realising he was heavily sedated after taking a dose of sleeping medication.
Mr Womack said the fire was believed to have started when the man dropped a lit cigarette on to a mattress in his living room while drowsy from the tablets.
He added that the incident demonstrated the risk of a fire breaking out when smoking in bed.
“The resident was rescued and carried out by a firefighter unconscious,” Mr Womack said.
“It appeared he wasn’t breathing but turned out he was heavily sedated by sleeping tablets.”
Four other people, all adults, had to leave neighbouring flats as a precaution.
“There was a smoke alarm but for some reason it didn’t raise the alarm, so it must have been out,” Mr Womack said.
“The fire appears to have been started by discarded smoking materials which set fire to the bed in the living room. It looks like it’s spread from the living room to the rest of the flat.
“It’s done quite a lot of damage to the flat and obviously affected the other flats as the smoke spread.”
Three fire engines were called to the scene at just before 2am yesterday from Central and Mansfield Road stations.
Crews used water jets to put out the flames and used breathing apparatus to search the premises.
The 45-year-old man was given first aid, and firefighters left after an hour and 45 minutes.
Mr Womack said: “As we’ve always said when we’re doing home fire safety checks, if you do smoke in the house, make sure that the cigarette is out by putting it in water or putting it out in an ash tray.
“Plus, don’t smoke in bed, because if you fall asleep in bed that’s going to be the biggest problem.”
By Richard Blackledge