QUICK thinking actions from a dog walker and off duty policeman prevented a shed fire from spreading to a terrace of houses in Trowbridge this morning.

Homeowner Michael Downs and his wife Sandra were woken from their beds early this morning in response to the knocking of an off-duty police officer after he realised that their neighbour’s shed had caught alight.

The blaze started around 5am in a shed in the garden of a house in Innox Road and spread to a nearby shed in Innox Mill. A woman walking her dog called the fire service after spotting smoke rising from a field nearby.

Fire Investigation Officer and Station Manager Dave Geddes confirmed the fire was accidental and encouraged people to test their smoke alarms.

Speaking at his home following the fire, Mr Downs said: “We said, what’s all this about? It’s pitch black and we were in bed asleep so to suddenly be woken up so early we were bewildered as to what was going on.”

Firefighters from Trowbridge and a crew from Melksham brought the blaze under control. The shed was completely destroyed and the fire caught the front of the house, damaging the door and melting the window.

Mr Downs believes that because his detached house is located next to a row of terraced properties, the blaze could have quickly reached other houses so it was fortunate that the fire team were able to deal with the accident before it spread.

Crew Manager, Neil Hiscock from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service  considers the cause to be a chemical breakdown of a compost container over heating close to a tree.

He said: “It’s unfortunate where it started as it was so close to a tree so it's probably the result of an instantaneous combustion.”

As for prevention of this, they would like people to make sure their compost heaps are well ventilated.

Mr Downs praised the efforts of firefighters who were quick to put the blaze out and highlighted the importance of Trowbridge having a fire station in the town.

He said: "Five of our windows and the front door will all need to be replaced, all the guttering has been ruined too, it is terrible. At the time though we were just glad to get out safe and the help we had from the fire crews was excellent."