CHRISTMAS Eve ended in disaster for one householder after a chimney caught fire.

Smoke filled the attic of the house in Thornwood High Road, near Epping, after the fire was discovered shortly after 7pm.

Fire fighters spent nearly five hours tackling the fire, which they said was in a hard-to-reach part of the chimney, and cut away part of the skirting board inside the house.

They stayed on the scene tackling hotspots until 11.45pm and returned in the early hours of Christmas morning to check the house was safe.