Firefighters were called to a smoke-filled, high-rise flat in Watford yesterday evening.

Crews from Watford, Garston and Rickmansworth broke into the flat on the 16th floor of Munden View, in the Meriden Estate, at 7.20pm.

A neighbour raised the alarm after hearing the smoke detector and smelling the fire, which, it later emerged, was caused by the occupants failing to turn off cooking appliances.

The flat was empty at the time and the five crews were forced to put their high-rise procedure into action, using a pipe inside the building to pump water to the 14th floor.

From there, firefighters contained the fire which caused smoke damage to the flat.

The crews were at the scene for an hour and a half and police stayed afterwards until the occupants arrived back home.

Watch commander Tony Smith, of the Garston Blue Watch, said: “People need to be more careful with cooking appliances, particularly if they live in high-rise flats in Watford as it heightens the danger for everyone if there is a fire.

“This is just another example of the importance of smoke alarms.

“If you haven’t got one, you should buy one and if you have, check the batteries are working.

“The incident was a good opportunity for us to put into practice our high rise procedure and we were very pleased with how it went.”