When Nelly Banks saw her rat’s cage burst into flames, she never expected to see her beloved pet again.
But she got quite a shock when the rascal rodent ran around on the floor – after sparking a full scale 999 alert.
Nelly’s pet – called No Name – stole a smouldering cigarette butt from her ashtray and took it to bed with him.
But the cigarette continued to smoulder, set fire to her cage and left her entire flat on Westminster Road, Morecambe, smoke-logged.
The 43-year-old has no idea how the rat made the miracle escape. She said: “He is a little pincher, he is always taking stuff and hiding it and this time he took one of my cigarettes and put it into his cage which is obviously flammable.
“He had beer cans and bits of paper and all sorts in there, so it did not take much to send it up.
“I don’t know what he thought he was doing, it was about 3am and I woke up and there was smoke everywhere.
“I just grabbed a blanket and put it over the cage and then rushed outside to get a fire extinguisher because there was no way I was leaving him to take his chances.”
But, when she was outside the flat, her neighbours stopped her from rushing back in to rescue her pet as the fire brigade arrived.
Mark Bateson, of the green watch crew at Morecambe fire station, said he believed the rat was building a nest and scurried away through an open door when it realised its home was about to go up in flames.
He said: “Fortunately, the fire alarm detected the fire and everyone got out, but people need to be careful with carelessly discarded cigarettes.”
A spokesman for the Places for People housing association, the flat owners, said there was “slight fire damage”.
Nelly added: “He’s in the dog house, but I’m too soft to be upset with him forever.”