A fierce blaze left one house a charred ruin and two others seriously damaged in Luton on Tuesday evening.
Beds Fire and Rescue Service were called out at 6.25pm to the fire in a garden in Carol Close.
When they arrived, they found the entire three-storey house engulfed in flames.
It took over an hour for the blaze to be extinguished. It is believed an electrical fault may be the cause of the fire.
Neighbour Shorna Khan, 18, was upstairs in her room when the blaze broke out.
She said: “We could smell smoke and at first we thought it was only a bonfire.
“Then I saw it and the flames looked almost like water. They were three storeys high and I stared out my window for a bit before I started coughing.”
Shorna’s mum hurried to get the stunned student out of the house as the entire neighbourhood watched firefighters battling the fire.
She said: “It’s surprising that the fire grew so quickly. No-one realised until it was really high.”
The fire was extinguished by 7.47pm, leaving the house in ruins. The entire rear of the house and the garden decking was left completely scorched, with smoke and fire damage affecting the building’s interior. The two neighbouring homes on either side suffered fire damage to the windows and the guttering.
No-one was injured in the incident. It is understood the woman living in the home and her two small children were not present when the fire started.
Shorna, who was visiting from university, added: “It’s so lucky that the kids weren’t home, as it would have been really difficult to get them out.”
Three fire engines and the Luton aerial platform were needed to beat the blaze, with firefighters useing breathing apparatus, one hose reel and one jet.
Jason Tai, station commander at Luton Community Fire Station, added: “I would like thank the crews who worked extremely effectively in the early stages of the incident to prevent the fire spreading to adjoining properties and limited the damage to mainly the outside of the houses.
“Without this we would have likely to have seen three houses involved as the fire was spreading to the roof area.
“The initial fire investigation that took place indicated that the most probable cause was an electrical fault.”
A fire investigation is currently ongoing.