PHOTOGRAPHER Paul Burrows was rescued when a fire broke out in his studio.
He was painting the walls of Rob Paul Studios, in East Street, Havant, when a toaster burst into flames in the kitchen.
Being partially deaf, he was unaware of the fire alarm blasting out.
It was only when his upstairs neighbour, Michelle Bryce, called his mobile phone – which happened to be sitting next to him – that Mr Burrows realised there was a blaze.
She alerted the fire brigade at 7.30pm on Sunday.
‘When Michelle called me, it threw me into a panic,’ he said. ‘It was scary.
‘I opened the door to get out, but the hall was pitch black with thick smoke and I couldn’t see a thing even though the lights were on.
‘I quickly closed the door again because there wasn’t any smoke in the studio and was thinking how I would ever be able to make it out.
‘It felt like hours I was in there waiting for the fire brigade to come, but eventually I heard them banging at the front door trying to get in.’
From receiving the emergency call, it took firefighters six minutes to get there and pull Mr Burrows to safety.
Once outside the building, he was treated by paramedics for smoke inhalation.
He was uninjured, but the building suffered damage.
The 49-year-old, from Bedhampton, added: ‘It’s devastating. The back of the shop is badly damaged and a lot of equipment has been destroyed – we will lose a lot of business though this.
‘But the fact that I’m still here looking at it all is the most important thing and I’m grateful for that. It could have been so much worse.’
It took two crews from Havant and one from Emsworth just over an hour to put out the blaze.
Although Mr Burrows had installed smoke detectors with lights throughout the shop, there wasn’t one fitted in the studio room.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue’s Andy Earl, who led the investigation into the incident, said: ‘It was an unfortunate set of events that led to this fire, but thankfully Paul made it out alright.
‘There are all sorts of systems out there that can be installed to protect the hard of hearing from a fire. These include a vibrating alert under the home-owners pillow, or strobe alarms in the home.’
For more call the service’s community safety team on (023) 8062 6809.