DIWALI candles are thought to have caused a house fire last night.

Around half of the first floor of the property on Riverdale Road, Erith, was damaged by the blaze which started at around 10.40pm on November 13.

Four fire engines and around 20 firefighters from Erith, Plumstead and Bexley fire stations were at the scene and had the situation under control an hour later, at 11.40pm.

Two people escaped before emergency services arrived.

It is believed to have been caused by candles used for Diwali, a Hindu event known as the Festival of Lights which took place this year on November 13 each year.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) watch manager Stewart Button, who was at the scene, said: “The house was badly damaged and the two men who escaped were lucky to get out, as the property did not have a working smoke alarm.

“When using candles as part of a celebration, it is very important to remember that when not used carefully, they can be very dangerous.

“Use a proper fire resistant holder and don’t put them near anything that could catch fire.”

To keep safe during Diwali celebrations:

• Make sure candles are placed in a fire resistant holder.

• Keep candles and matches out of the reach of children, away from draughts and anything that can catch fire, like curtains or loose clothing.

• Special care should be taken with homemade, decorated candles and diya lamps.