Two dogs die in 'lit cigarette' house fire in Stoke-on-Trent
Two dogs have died of smoke inhalation in a house fire caused by a lit cigarette at a home in Stoke-on-Trent.
The blaze, at a two-bedroom home on Bond Street in Tunstall, broke out at 04:20 GMT.
Staffordshire Fire Service said an occupant had dropped a lit cigarette end or hot embers from an ashtray on a settee before going upstairs to bed.
Firefighters rescued a man and a woman from the house. They were taken to the Royal Stoke University Hospital.
The service said the woman had fallen asleep in the living room but was unable to escape as she could not find her key. They smashed the windows and rescued her.
Four firefighters then tackled the blaze using two hose reel jets.
They discovered a man in an upstairs bathroom and rescued him using a ladder.
The service said two Staffordshire bull terriers who were upstairs had died.
Both the man and woman were treated for smoke inhalation.
Station manager Neil Pedersen said: "The couple had an incredibly lucky escape and the situation could have very easily been catastrophic for them."