A FAMILY escaped through a window in a block of flats in the early hours after a candle set alight to their mattress.

Three fire crews, from Clacton and Weeley, were called to the blaze in Nayland DRive at about 1.25am this morning.

They were alerted to the incident after the resident called 999 to say his mattress was on fire and he had pulled it into the first floor lobby area of the two storey block of flats.

After pulling the mattress into the lobby the man went back into his flat, and then became trapped by smoke and fire.

When firefighters arrived they reported that a woman and child had already been lowered to safety through a window but the man was still trapped inside.

Firefighters quickly pitched a ladder to rescue the man, while more firefighters tackled the mattress fire in the lobby, extinguishing it by 2.22am.

Crew manager Samuel Mussett, from Clacton Fire Station, said: "Although the homeowner thought he was doing the right thing by moving the mattress out of his flat, he inadvertently moved the fire to the lobby area, not only burning his hands in the process but trapping himself and potentially three other flats.

"It's easy to panic in the moment, but the most important thing to remember is if you discover a fire in your home: get out, stay out and call 999."

The flat has suffered some smoke damage and the lobby area has been badly damaged by fire.

Following the blaze, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service issued safety advice over smoke alarms.

A spokesman said: "Smoke alarms are proven life savers. They give warning at the first sign of fire, waking you and your family up and giving everyone the time they need to get safely out and call the Fire Service.

"Essex County Fire and Rescue Service wants to ensure that every single home in Essex has the excellent protection smoke alarms offer and will visit any home in Essex and fit smoke alarms completely free of charge.

"If you or someone you know doesn't have working smoke alarms, book a free home safety visit today at www.essex-fire.gov.uk/book."