A HOUSE fire in Southbourne has left a couple homeless for Christmas.
Fire crews from Hampshire and West Sussex were called to the semi-detached home in First Avenue around 5.30pm on Tuesday
When they arrived, they found flames issuing from an upstairs bedroom window, but the couple were safely outside.
Incident commander Paul Coates said: “It’s a warning to members of the public to check that if they have got smoke detectors, make sure the batteries are working to give them early warning.”
The alarm batteries had been flat, meaning the only warning the homeowners had was hearing the fire.
He said if it had been later in the evening and the couple were asleep, they would have had no warning.
Four fire crews attended the scene and got the blaze under control.
There was heavy smoke damage to the roof and the first floor. The Red Cross was there to help the couple, who Mr Coates said would be unable to return to the home for a number of weeks.
It was unclear what had started the fire and crews were due to investigate.