A smoke alarm was the hero as a family was rescued from a house fire in Shortlands last night.

At around 11.45pm, the smoke alarm woke the family after a fire had started in the kitchen of their home in Bromley Grove.

Heavy smoke spread from the kitchen into the stairway, leaving the husband, wife and daughter stranded upstairs.

As they waited for fire services to rescue them, they were told by control officers over the phone to close the bedroom door, put bedding down to stop the smoke coming in and open the bedroom window.

When firefighters arrived they pitched a ladder up to the bedroom and carried the family out of the open window.

Neighbour Les Harwood, 57, said: "I smelled something dodgey so I came downstairs and thought it must be coming from next door.

"I don't know how it go through the walls but even here I could see there was misty smoke.

"At that point I could hear movement next door.

"The fire engines got here very quickly. They put up a ladder to the first floor."

Denise Malkin, 45, who lives opposite, added: "I just heard the sirens and looked out of the window.

"I saw two fire engines. I heard windows being smashed and I saw the family being helped out of the window.

"I could smell the smoke. I could see the smoke.

"They were there for around two hours."

Fire services believe the fire was caused by a faulty dishwasher.

Crew Manager Bob Davis, who was at the scene, said: "There was heavy smoke in the house and we quickly pitched a ladder up to the bedroom and rescued a man and two women.

"They were suffering from a small amount of smoke inhalation and were treated by London Ambulance Service crews.

"It was fantastic team work between our 999 control officers and firefighters but the real hero was the working smoke alarm which woke the family and helped save their lives.

"It's vital that everyone has at least one working smoke alarm and test it regularly."

The fire was under control at 12.38am. Fire crews from Bromley and Beckenham fire stations attended the scene.