A FORMER professional chef says he's lucky to be alive after falling asleep with a pan of aubergines left cooking on a hob.

Top cook Allan Pond wishes he'd ordered a takeaway instead of cooking after waking up to firefighters in the front room of his smoke-filled home on Saville Road, Gilroyd.

Fortunately for Allan, a neighbour heard his smoke alarm going off during the culinary mishap and dialled 999.

The 59-year-old, who spent more than 30 years working as a chef in some of the county's top hotels and aboard cruise ships, wasn't seriously injured but says the experience has left him wondering what could have happened.

"I am annoyed with myself for taking up the fire crew's time and this has been a major wake-up call for me," he said.

"In future if I am tired, I will do what the fire crew suggested and send out for some chips."

South Yorkshire Fire's head of community safety, Kevin Ronan, said: "Cooking is the single biggest cause of house fires and unfortunately these blazes can spread very quickly.

"Our advice is to never cook when feeling tired or after drinking alcohol as you can easily become distracted or fall asleep."