FIREFIGHTERS who rescued a sleeping man from a flat in Paignton say he is lucky to be alive.
The man left his cooker on while he dozed in his flat on Great Headland Road.
A neighbour heard his smoke alarm going off and shouted through the letterbox.
But after getting no response, they called 999 and firefighters broke into the property.
Torquay's green watch was sent to the scene because crews in Paignton were at another job.
Firefighter Wal Pollitt said: "By the time we got there a fire had developed in the kitchen.
"We made entry into the flat and attacked it using two breathing apparatus and one hose.
"We went into the living room and found the man intoxicated and asleep on the sofa. We got him out and he was treated by the ambulance for smoke inhalation.
"The fire was going like a train when we got there. He is a very lucky man.
"At this time of year, in particular, people should be aware of the dangers of cooking and drinking."
Despite their help, the rescued man was not particularly happy to see the firefighters.
"The first thing he said was, 'Why didn't you ring the bell?'"
Some 70 per cent of the kitchen was destroyed, with smoke damage to the rest of the house.
The incident happened on Monday, at 5.15pm.
"I would like to get the message across that people really do need to be careful," said the firefighter.
"We don't want any tragedies before Christmas."