A family of five were lucky to escape with their lives on Saturday after their kitchen became engulfed in flames as most of them lay fast asleep.

It was only thanks to the actions of the family's eldest son that the Hamers were able to get out of their home in Beacon Parc, Helston before the fire really took hold.

Helston Community College student Thomas, 17, had gone downstairs for a late night snack at around 12.45am and discovered what had happened.

Contrary to some reports the cause of the blaze was not a chip pan fire but in fact a cooker ring getting knocked on accidentally in the small galley kitchen, without anyone realising, which caused an old pan of oil left on top to get so hot it set alight.

Thomas woke his father, William, who took one look at the then smoking pan and ordered everyone out.

Mum Miranda, who had actually taken sleeping tablets only a couple of hours earlier and was hardest to wake, told the Packet on Monday: “Thomas is the hero. He didn't panic.”

After first getting his ten-year-old sister Emily to safety along with their 13-year-old brother Jacob, who called 999, Thomas went back in to help rouse his mother.

The kitchen has been devastated, with the flames reaching such a temperature that the plastic started melting, but the family is remaining philosophical.

Mr Hamer said: “Stuff can be replaced,” with his wife adding: “At least we didn't lose one of the kids or us.”

However, she did admit: “It was quite upsetting going back Saturday.”

Fire fighters from Helston were on the scene within minutes and quickly called for backup from Mullion and Falmouth.

They managed to save the rest of the house, although the whole of the downstairs is covered in thick black soot.

Mrs Hamer said: “Thank you to all the services involved.”

The family has taken refuge at the May Tree for the rest of the month, as the house is too damaged to return to immediately.

They arrived at the hotel after being discharged from hospital in the early hours of Saturday, wearing only pyjamas and with nothing on their feet.

Staff took pity on them, allowing them to stay the first night for free.

Mrs Hamer said: “I'd like to thank the Premier Inn. They let us stay here that night for nothing until we got everything sorted out, which was very nice of them. All the staff have been very helpful and have even done our washing for us.”

Close neighbour and Helston town councillor Ronnie Williams, who is a former fireman, said the family were “very lucky to be alive”, particularly with the fire breaking out at that time of the morning when people are usually in their deepest sleep.

He said: “I heard the commotion. Smoke was issuing through the alleyway - it was the black smoke normally associated with plastics and there's nothing more toxic.

“In that acrid smoke you don't last long at all.”

He described the plastic as running down “like treacle” it had got so hot, adding: “At the end of the day, they have got to thank whoever or whatever God they're with.”