A FAMILY had a lucky escape after festive candles sparked a fire at their home on Christmas Day.

Fire crews from Halstead were called to the blaze which broke out in Castle Hedingham at 8.30pm.Two fire engines rushed to the scene in Queen Street just after 8.30pm following reports that a room was on fire.

Firefighters found a painting alight caused by heat from candles on a mantlepiece. It took just ten minutes to put out the blaze.

A fire service spokesman said: “The fire was extinguished quickly reducing the damage, and the family could carry on with their Christmas celebrations.”

The brigade issued a warning to other Christmas revellers following the incident.

The spokesman said: “Candles are used a lot at Christmas and to mark special occasions and create a special atmosphere.

“They also bring fire into your home, so treat them carefully.

“The fire service see an increase in candles fires at this time of year, so we are urging everyone to use candles safely and never leave them unattended.”

“Many people use candles not only at Christmas time but throughout winter.

“The family on Queen Street had a lucky escape from what could have been a disastrous Christmas.

“Always put candles on a heat-resistant surface.

“Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic. TVs are not fire-resistant objects.

“Put candles in a proper holder. They need to be held firmly upright by the holder so they won’t fall over.

“The holder needs to be stable too, so it won’t fall over either.

“Don’t put candles near curtains or other fabrics or furniture, and keep them out of draughts.

“Don’t put them under shelves. It’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of heat above a burning candle.

“If you put it under a shelf or other surface then it can burn the surface. Make sure there is at least three feet between a candle and any surface above it.

“Keep clothes and hair away. If there is any chance you could lean across a candle and forget it’s there, put it somewhere else, because you don’t want to set fire to your clothes or your hair. 

“Candles should also be out of reach of children and pets.

“Keep candles apart. Leave at least four inches between two burning candles.” The brigade also warned people to take special care with scented candles.

The spokesman said: “These kinds of candles turn to liquid to release their fragrance, so put them in a glass or metal holder.”

He added: “Extinguish candles before you leave a room and never go to sleep with a candle still burning. “And never leave a burning candle or oil burner"