FIRE safety chiefs have praised a family who escaped their burning York home and said the life-saving precautions they took should act as an example to others.

Michael Ward was woken in the early hours of Monday by the smoke alarm going off at his family’s house in Askham Lane and managed to get himself, his wife, Lynsey, and their sons, Kieran, 14, and 12-year-old Christopher, to safety before windows exploded and flames took hold.

Despite inhaling smoke, all four – and their dog, Max – were unhurt and, as The Press reported yesterday, relieved to be alive.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said the fact the family had a working smoke alarm and an escape plan prevented a quadruple tragedy, and has urged other householders to do the same.

“This drives home our message about the importance of smoke alarms and is a really good example of how they save lives,” said Peter Hudson, the service’s head of prevention and protection.

“This family have spoken of how terrifying it is to be in a burning house in the middle of the night and their story also highlights the need to have a plan in place, so that when a smoke alarm sounds, you know what to do. In this case, they were well prepared and found window keys in case their escape route was blocked.

"They had a very lucky escape, but if they had not had a smoke detector, I think we would have been looking at four fatalities as they were fast asleep and the rooms were filled with black smoke. It’s fair to say the smoke alarm saved four lives.”

The fire at the Wards’ home is believed to have been started by an faulty electrical socket.

Mr Hudson said : “The more modern alarms have a ten-year lifespan and the older ones bleep when the battery is running down, but the noise annoys some people and they take the battery out and don’t replace it.

"Without a battery, a smoke alarm is useless – that bleep is telling you to buy a new battery that day. Alarms only cost about £10 and the fire service will fit them for free following a home fire-risk check.”