Flames quickly spread and damaged the ground floor of a flat.

Firefighters were called to a block of flats in Allitsen Road, St John's Wood, yesterday (December 19) at 6.35pm.

Half of a three-roomed ground floor flat was damaged by the blaze. One man left the building before the London Fire Brigade arrived.

It was extinguished less than an hour later at 7.26pm, with 25 firefighters at the scene.

The brigade says the fire is believed to have been accidental and caused by a candle.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Fires can cause devastation all year round, but this is heightened around Christmas with families potentially left homeless and possessions destroyed.”

The spokesperson advised that candles are kept away from Christmas decorations, to use flameless LED candles instead and to place traditional candles in a heat-resistant holder.