A couple were found hanging out of a window as an intense fire caused by a “carelessly disposed cigarette” raged through their Deptford home.

London Fire Brigade were called just after 1am today (January 2) to a burning maisonette in Griffin Street as around 40 people had to evacuate.

Firefighters from Greenwich, Deptford, Lewisham and New Cross all arrived at the scene and rescued the couple hanging from the second floor balcony.

A spokesperson from LFB said they believed the fire was started on a wooden balcony, caused by a carelessly disposed cigarette.

It took firefighters an hour to put out the blaze, during which it had spread inside the maisonette and up to the third floor.

Gary Deacon, Greenwich Watch manager, said: “When crews arrived they were faced with an intense fire which was very visible and two people were hanging from a bedroom window.

“Firefighters quickly tackled the fire and rescued the man and woman via an internal staircase. They were both suffering from smoke inhalation and were taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service crews.

“A further man and woman from the fifth floor were also led to safety. Around 40 people left the block before the Brigade arrived.”

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: Smoking vastly increases the risk of having a fire in your home. If you are a smoker it is absolutely vital that you make sure your cigarette is completely out when you have finished it.

“If you don't you are at risk of starting a fire that could destroy not only your home, but your life and the lives of your loved ones.”