A FAMILY is picking up the pieces after a devastating fire gutted their home.

Flames ripped through the house on Ffordd Tegid, Ewloe, at 7.45pm on Tuesday.

Firefighters say the homeowner tried to tackle the blaze herself using wet towels.

She and her 14-year-old daughter were treated for smoke inhalation after the fire, thought to have been started by a chip pan.

County fire safety officer Kevin Roberts was yesterday leading a 15-strong team of fire service staff offering free safety checks to hundreds households in the area.

He said: “The woman’s daughter was asleep on the sofa and she was woken by the smoke alarm.

“She woke her mum who was in bed upstairs, who then opened the back door – letting air in to fuel the fire – and tried to cover it using a wet towel.

“This used to be the advice given about how to deal with a chip pan fire, but we tell people not to do it now.

“If the towels are not wrung out like in this case, the water can make the fire worse, with potentially explosive consequences.”

The flames caused smoke damage to two neighbouring houses as well as completely gutting the ground floor of the property and causing extensive damage upstairs.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “I was cooking my tea and went outside and noticed a little bit of smoke coming from the house.

“I went back inside, but thought I’d better have another look to see what was going on. I heard the smoke alarm going off and when I went back outside the smoke was thick.

“It had gone from hardly anything to really thick in just a couple of minutes.

“My neighbour was outside at the front on the phone to the fire brigade and she was obviously really upset.

“There is smoke damage to my house and I have been here less than a year, so everything in there is new. I’m waiting to hear from the insurance company what is going to happen now.”

Mr Roberts said fire service staff would be returning to those homes where the door was not answered in the evening, in a bid to target as many residents as possible.

For a free home fire safety check call 0800 169 1234.