Fire investigators say they believe an electric blanket might have caused a Norwich house fire, which took 50 firefighters to bring it under control.

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The blaze broke out in Knowsley Road, in the north of the city, at about 11.40pm last night and a man, believed to be in his 50s, was taken to hospital after inhaling smoke.

The man, believed to be the owner of the house, was initially treated by paramedics but was then taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

And, with the blaze spreading to the roof of the home next door, about seven or eight people who live in the street had to leave their homes, with The Stanley pub offering shelter.

An investigation began today and a spokesman for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said: “The exact circumstances are still being investigated, however, we believe the fire might have been started by an electric blanket.”

Eight fire crews from Sprowston, Carrow, Earlham, Wroxham, Hethersett, Wymondham, Long Stratton, Acle and Aylsham, together with a control unit from Wymondham, were called to the blaze. which is thought to have started in the bedroom of the terrace house.

An aerial platform ladder from Earlham helped fight the blaze in the roof space. Police were on hand to help firefighters by moving cars from the road to allow the aerial platform ladder access to the blaze.

Watch manager Simon Mason, of Sprowston fire station, said: “We were called to a fire in a terrace premises on Knowsley Road.

“What we then discovered was a fire involving the first floor which also involved the roof and due to the nature of the terrace houses it spread to the adjoining roof of the next door property.”

Two crews initially attended with firefighters wearing breathing apparatus fighting the fire with hose reels from inside.

But Watch manager Mason said due to the nature of the fire and the “risks” to the crews inside a decision was made to withdraw them and attack the fire from the front and rear with large jets aimed at the property.

The aerial ladder platform was then brought in to try and tackle the fire from above by targeting the badly damaged roof space.

The fire had been contained and brought under control by firefighters by about 2am. but crews remained at the scene until just before 12.30pm today to check for hot spots.

Resident Tracey Bagshaw, who lives in Knowsley Road, said: “I was locking the door and just saw blue flashing lights and fire engines at both ends of the street.

“A fireman walked past and I asked what was going on and he said the fire was coming out the roof. We went out to see what was going on and spoke to a friend who was evacuated from her home. Two houses were burning.

“The firefighters were fighting the fire and trying to stop it spreading to homes either side.”

• Were you one of the people who had to leave their homes? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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