A man has described how he was rescued by firefighters as a blaze ripped through his mother’s home while he slept.

Ivor Burkwood, a father-of-four, was resting in a loft room at the semi-detached house in Mornington Road, Chingford, yesterday evening when a blaze was started in the kitchen.

Mr Burwood’s 90-year-old mother Vincenzia managed to escape the property, but was spotted by neighbour Nicola Hards desperately trying to get back in and save her son.

When firefighters alerted by an automated fire alarm arrived they put on breathing apparatus and managed to reach Mr Burkwood.

Describing the dramatic moment, he said: "It was the fright of my life. I had no idea what was going on.

"Two firefighter’s busted in my room. One of them took off his mask and rammed it over my face and carried me out of the house."

Mr Burkwood fell in and out of consciousness during the rescue and while being treated in the ambulance.

Speaking at the house this morning after being released from hospital, Mr Burkwood said he was still in shock and described feeling “numb” at the extent of the damage.

But he said his overriding feeling was relief that the automated alarm system had worked so well.

“I wouldn’t have known about the fire. They saved mine and my mother’s life, without them we would be dead,” he added.

Neighbour Nicola Hards was throwing some rubbish out when she spotted the thick black smoke bellowing out of the front door.

The 41-year-old clothes store manager said: “I went over to the house and saw [Mrs Burkwood] trying to get back into the house.

“I was trying to get her away from the house. The firemen were getting the hoses ready and were asking me to move her away so eventually I pulled her back.

“The smoke was coming out thick and fast and my throat felt tight.

“I then saw them bring out the man. I thought he was dead. There was black all around his mouth and his body looked pure white.

“His rib cage was raised and it looked like there was no air in him. It was horrible.”

Mr Burkwood said: “Nicola is a total hero and I can’t thank her enough for helping my poor mother.”