A leading firefighter has warned that almost half the blazes dealt with by his men start in the kitchen - because people are distracted while cooking meals.

Watch manager Chris Havers gave his warning after his team at Maidenhead fire station was called to an address in Croxley Rise, Maidenhead, at 8.30pm yesterday (Wednesday) evening - arriving just in time to save the caller's dinner and his new flat from destruction.

The emergency call came from a man who had gone to the front door to welcome his guest - a former work colleague - who has just rang the bell.

He left dinner cooking on the hob.

Watch manager Havers said: "He stepped outside, told his guest that dinner was ready on the hob and heard the door slam behind him."

A frantic emergency call to the fire brigade followed and a team arrived in time to get the man back inside his flat - before his home and the dinner went up in flames.

Watch manager Havers says that the potentially amusing incident hides a darker reality.

He said: "About 45 per cent of all the fires in Berkshire start in the kitchen after people are distracted.

"My advice to anyone cooking is this - before you walk away from the oven because someone is at the door or the children are fighting always make sure you turn it off."