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A second-floor flat was badly burnt in a house fire this morning.

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The blaze, which damaged about 40 per cent of the Durham Avenue flat, Gidea Park, is thought to have been started by someone smoking in bed.

Firefighters from Hornchurch and Harold Hill were called just after 11am and searched through the thick smoke for anyone trapped inside – but the householders had left the scene before they arrived.

It is thought there was no smoke alarm fitted.

Were you there? Call the news desk on 020 8477 3903 or e-mail ramzy.alwakeel@archant.co.uk.

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