THIS WEEK IN 2000: Don’t panic, it’s only my birthday cake...

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Rod Kemp was taking a deep breath to blow out his birthday candles – and ended up setting off the fire alarm.

The Gosport housing benefits officer was celebrating his birthday in the town office with a huge cake complete with 60 candles.

But Rod did not realise the sensitivity of a nearby smoke detector.

The result was that when Rod blew out all 60 candles, the large cloud of smoke produced triggered the town hall’s fire alarm system.

This automatically alerted Gosport fire station and within seconds firefighters were on their way.

All 200 members of staff, along with 30 members of the public, immediately had to drop whatever they were doing and leave the building for about 10 minutes before the all-clear was given.

Fortunately for Rod and his colleagues, town hall chiefs saw the funny side of it – helped by an offering of birthday cake.

Mr Kemp said: ‘I am a bit embarassed about it, as it inconvenienced a lot of people, but as far I am aware everybody took it with a sense of humour.

‘I think we shall have to be more careful for my 61st birthday.’