A pet hamster called Pebbles caused a freakish house fire that almost suffocated its owners and killed their two dogs.
It is believed the pint-sized pet managed to switch on the COOKER and cause £20,000-worth of fire and smoke damage.
Tracey Hill and her son Kae could not sleep the night before Halloween because nocturnal Pebbles was making too much noise.
“I moved her into the kitchen so we couldn’t hear her. I stood her cage on top of the electric cooker hob – the only big enough surface that the dogs couldn’t reach,” said Tracey.
At 4.30am she and Kae, 13, woke to the sound of the smoke alarm to find the kitchen and lounge full of thick black smoke.
The hob was mysteriously switched on and Pebbles’ cage had caught fire, killing the hamster instantly.
“It’s a mystery how it happened. One theory is that the hamster was banging about so much that it caused the cage to slide around and press against the cooker switch,” said Tracey.
She led Kae to safety and began a desperate search for her dogs.
Tragically Jack Russell Twiggy and Yorkie Poppy were killed by the smoke, though a third terrier survived. A pet chinchilla was also a victim of the fire.
Tracey said: “We are heartbroken to lose four of our pets. And we’ve also lost all of our possessions. We literally have just the nightclothes we were wearing.
“But at least my son and I are still alive. We could so easily have been killed.”
The single mum has praised firefighters who searched the St Clements Drive house for the pets.
“Luckily the fire service had carried out a safety check on the house when we first moved in, so the fire alarm was working perfectly.
“It saved our lives,” she said.
She has also thanked neighbours and friends, who have rallied round to donate clothes for her and Kae.
The pair are currently living in temporary accommodation waiting to be rehomed.
Said 40-year-old Tracey: “I can’t believe we’ve lost everything because of our pet hamster. I must have put Pebbles on top of the cooker a dozen times before when she was noisy at night. I never realised the switch could be turned so easily.
“And I never dreamed it would cause a fire and almost kill my son and I.”
This week kind- hearted Tesco bosses heard of Tracey and Kae’s loss and invited the pair to the Kingston store for a £1,000 shopping spree.
“It’s incredibly kind of them,” said Tracey.