SOUTH Tynesiders have been warned to take care with chip pans after two fires over the weekend.
One man was rescued and another helped to safety after a blaze at flats in Harton Lane, South Shields, on Saturday.
Both were taken to South Tyneside District Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. A third person managed to escape the flat.
The kitchen of the property was badly-damaged in the fire, which happened at 6.20pm.
An hour later, a person was treated for minor burns after fleeing a kitchen blaze at a flat in Rekendyke Mews, Laygate.
Fire chiefs said both incidents were caused by chip pans left unattended.
Group manager Keith Carruthers, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said those involved had been lucky to escape serious injury and warned others not to risk their lives.
He said: “Leaving a chip pan unattended for just a short time can lead to disastrous results, as the oil can soon catch fire.
“A simple switch from the pan to oven chips or a temperature-controlled deep fat fryer can help prevent fatal accidents.
“The individuals involved in these incidents were incredibly lucky. I would urge everyone to make sure they have working smoke alarms fitted in their home on every level and that they are tested weekly.
“There is no doubt a working smoke alarm can be the difference between life and death, giving you an early warning of fire.
“That was certainly the case in these incidents.
“Without them it could have been much worse.
“Our advice in the event of a fire is always to get out, call the fire and rescue service and stay out.
“Do not try to put a fire out yourself. To help stop it from spreading, close doors on your way out.”