A South Auckland man switched on his electric blanket and within minutes his home was ablaze.

The man was at his Wattle Downs home in South Auckland at about 8.30pm on Sunday when he noticed a haze in the air.

He checked behind his TV and then inspected the kitchen before walking into the bedroom to find his bed in flames.

Fire and Emergency Manurewa station officer Mike Carter said the resident quickly dashed to his garage for his fire extinguisher, but when he returned the entire bedroom was engulfed in flames.

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"By the time he raced to the garage to fetch his fire extinguisher, all the windows and glass were flying out of his bedroom. So it went pretty fast."

The man, who did not want to be named, appeared to be in utter disbelief at how quickly the fire took hold in such a short space of time.

The fire got into the ceiling and spread fast, causing extensive damage to the house.

He was already standing outside his house when firefighters from the Manurewa station arrived.

The electric blanket which appeared to be at fault was a few years old, but had been used for the past week without any problems. His smoke alarms did go off, but after he had already noticed the smoke.

Carter said it was a timely warning to get electric blankets checked before they were used this winter and to make sure fire alarms were installed and working.

Fire safety tips for electric blankets:
Replace your electric blanket every five years with newer heat-protected models, which are safer.
Worn and old electric blankets can cause an electric shock, fire and possibly even death.
At the first sign of wear have your electric blanket checked by a qualified electrician.
Don't place heavy objects on the bed while the blanket is on.
Make sure the blanket is always flat on the bed and that controls or cords are not twisted or caught between the mattress and the base of the bed. Twisted cords are a common cause of electric blanket fires.
Roll your blanket when you store it for the summer, don't fold it.
Source: Fire and Emergency