ROARING flames shot out of the top of a chimney stack after soot caught fire in the chimney of a family home.

The father managed to get his family safely out of the terraced property after flames from the lounge's log burning stove set alight to soot between the liner and the brick of the chimney.

It took an brainwave from firefighters to extinguish the blaze that broke out at 8pm yesterday at a house in Wigan Road, Westhoughton, close to Old Fold Road.

Hindley Fire Station's white watch manager Mark Anderson said: "I haven't been on a chimney fire for six or seven years.

"When we got there, the chimney was literally on fire because flames were coming out of the top of it.

"The chimney had been swept of soot but not very well.

"The normally practice in these cases is to drench it with water but of course that causes an incredible amount of water damage and we didn't want to do that.

"We were trying to work out how to put it out without filling his house full of water."

They initially cooled the hearth in the living room and then ascended to the roof to douse the blaze with a shower from a hose.

One of the crew then had the idea of trying their high pressure lance, a super-concentrated jet of water normally used for punching a hole in brick like a drill.

They used the equipment to blast a tiny hole in the wood burner's flue and the combination of the rising water and mist quickly doused the flames inside the chimney without any side effects.

Mr Anderson said: "It didn't cause any damage and it put the fire out."

The firefighters were on scene for two hours before they were able to quell the fire.

From the initial conventional fire-fighting efforts the house did sustain water damage to the floor, ceiling and plasterboard walls on the first floor but nevertheless the family were able to move back in straight away.

A report on the crew's innovative and effective successful alternate application for the high pressure lance has been sent to Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's headquarters for consideration as part of the policy on tackling chimney fires.