RESIDENTS have been told to ensure that they have working smoke alarms at home after a blaze in an apartment complex.

At least one flat out of the five in The Courtyard on City Bank Road, Cirencester, did not have a working smoke alarm when a fire broke out last Thursday.

Rupert Jelley, 26, who lives in the flat directly above the one that caught fire, said his letting agency was aware that his smoke alarm was broken two weeks before the fire.

On the evening of the fire, Rupert was in the flat with his girlfriend, when they heard a smoke alarm going off.

“We heard the alarm but we weren’t sure if it was the flat below or over the road,” he said.

They then saw “smoke coming from behind the curtain” of the flat below. “I was banging on the door to see if anyone was inside and called 999,” he said.

Rupert said fire crews arrived quickly to put out the fire, before visiting neighbouring flats and installing new smoke alarms for free.

Cllr Nigel Moor, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said it was vital that everyone checked they had a working smoke alarm.

He said: “Crews spoke to residents to promote fire safety at home. They offered advice and installed free smoke alarms in some properties.

“Having a working, well maintained smoke alarm can save your life, so make sure you test yours.”

A county council spokesman confirmed: "The alarms were fitted into flats where the alarms weren’t maintained properly."

The fire is believed to have started when a sofa cushion caught fire; the flat was briefly uninhabitable due to smoke damage.

Rupert said: “They brought out a sofa, and it was burnt through.

“There was talk of a faulty appliance between the emergency services, but it was only rumours.”

He said: “The whole flat isn’t gutted. The carpets are wrecked and the living room is in a bad state but it seemed to be only a small fire and there was no structural damage.”

Firefighters also rescued the owner's cat, Scratch.

“They found her on the window sill and rescued her but then she scarpered,” said Rupert.

Scratch has since returned home.