A FAMILY were “extremely fortunate” to escape with their lives as a ferocious fire tore through their home.

Fire crews were on the scene in Anscombe Road, Worthing, for almost six hours as the inferno destroyed the roof of the semi-detached house.

Worthing station manager Roy Barraclough said the family could count themselves lucky they were able to evacuate the property in time as the fire quickly took hold and spread through the top of the property.

Flames leapt from the building and smoke poured from the roof as the blaze raged throughout Tuesday evening.

Police closed the roads and urged people to avoid the area while emergency teams dealt with the incident.

Residents living nearby were told to keep their windows closed because of the huge plumes of smoke pouring from the house.

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Ambulance crews attended the scene and they were later joined by the air ambulance.

Adur and Worthing Police confirmed on Tuesday evening that there were “not thought to be any serious injuries” as a result of the fire.

But Mr Barraclough, who was among the firefighters involved in tackling the flames, issued a stern warning to homeowners following the incident.

He said: “Having a working smoke alarm is your first line of defence when a fire breaks out.

“It gives you the earliest possible warning that something is wrong and hopefully gives you and your family plenty of time to make your way out of the property to safety to dial 999.

“I would urge any residents who do not have a smoke alarm fitted on each level of their property to have one installed as a matter of priority.

The Argus:

“But having a smoke alarm is only effective if it is working – so make sure you test it at least once a week to make sure the batteries have not gone flat.”

Fire crews were called to the scene at 6.52pm on Tuesday and arrived to find a “well-developed” blaze on the first floor of the family home.

At the height of the incident, crews from Worthing, Littlehampton, East Preston, Shoreham and Horsham were working alongside each other to bring the fire under control.

The roof of the house was destroyed by the flames, which also caused extensive damage to the first floor.

Firefighters remained at the scene damping down and turning over to ensure there were no further hotspots, with the last crew leaving the scene at 2.08am. Following a fire investigation yesterday morning, the cause of the fire is believed to be accidental.