Fire crews rescued two dogs from a first floor flat after they caused a fire in the kitchen.
The incident happened at a property on Crown Street, Dedham. Emergency services were contacted by a neighbour who reported that the flat's smoke alarm had been sounding for some time.
Firefighters from Manningtree and Colchester arrived at 7.38pm and forced their way into the property, reporting that the kitchen was heavily smoke logged, with a smouldering fire on the hob.
They rescued the dogs and extinguished the fire by 8.10pm.
The fire started after the hob was turned on and set alight to a bin, which had been put on top of it to keep out of reach of the dogs while the owner was out. It has been recorded as accidental.
Stephen Smith, the watch manager at Colchester Fire Station, said: "Always keep your cooker and hob area clear - even if you’re not intending to turn it on, there’s always a chance it can get accidentally turned on.
"Thankfully in this case the contents of the bin was not particularly flammable, meaning the fire did not spread quickly, and instead turned into a slow smouldering fire.
"Although the smoke alarm had been sounding for some time the neighbour had assumed that it was a false alarm.
"It wasn’t until the neighbour went out, came back and realised the alarm was still going off that he called the fire service out.
"We always urge people to take note of their neighbour’s smoke alarm - if you hear it, give them a knock to check everything is okay.
"Smoke alarms can warn us, and others around us, of the first sign of fire and should always be taken seriously.”
The smoke was contained in the kitchen due to the door being closed.