An 80-year-old woman was taken to hospital after being unable to raise an alarm following a nasty fall at home.
The pensioner suffered head and hip injuries in the fall, and was found after an agonising two-and-a-half-hour wait at her home in Sunniside Drive, Cleadon, because of her smoke alarm.
The alarm went off because she had left a pan on in her kitchen, and it alerted one of her neighbours, who called the fire brigade.
Crews from South Shields and Sunderland Central attended the scene.
Crew manager Brady, of South Shields Fire Station, said: “An 80-year-old lady had fallen over and hurt herself.
“She was unable to get back up, and the pan was on. If not for the smoke alarm, it could have been worse.
“That alerted one of the neighbours, who called us.
“She had been on the floor for two-and-a-half hours when we got there.
“There was no fire damage, and the woman was taken to South Tyneside District Hospital.
“She had suffered a heavy knock to the head and her hip.”