Elderly residents of a Wellington retirement home were pulled out of bed last night after a stove element was left on, setting off smoke alarms.

Around 20 residents were evacuated from a block of the Malvina Major Retirement Village in Johnsonville at around 9.30pm, corporate affairs manager David King said.

"We found the source of the problem, which was a placemat left on an element. Everyone's fine but they've had a bit of a fright. But everyone is back in their rooms and the nurses have checked them - they're all fine."