FIREFIGHTERS saved a Witney shop from destruction after tracing smoke to a small blaze outside.

The flames in the town's High Street last night 'could have escalated into a significant fire', Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service said, if not for a working alarm system and quick reaction of residents who called for help.

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At least three crews attended after receiving the call-out at 7.30pm, and were initially baffled by the burning smell and smoke inside an electrical shop.

A statement issued on the fire service's Facebook page said: "Crews found light smoke logging to the ground floor shop and a smell of burning, although no evidence of fire."

After hunting for the source, they found a small hidden fire and concluded that a dumped cigarette butt was the likely cause. 

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The statement added: "Eventually [the smoke] was traced to a small fire in an inaccessible recess outside the rear of the shop, where possibly a discarded cigarette had set light to accumulated rubbish. 

"Fortunately the fire alarm activated and raised the alarm for the residents of flats above who called us, and we were able to eventually locate the source.

"Proof of how a functioning and maintained system prevented what could have escalated into a significant fire unnoticed."

Images shared elsewhere on Facebook show a fire cordon outside the Peter B Ledbury Ltd store.