SHE might be tiny, but Frankie the toy Jack Russell is a big hero after saving her owners’ lives in what could have been a deadly blaze.

With no smoke alarms in their home, Marie and Sammy Lear had no way of knowing a fire was raging in their bathroom in the early hours of Sunday, January 6.

Marie, 61, of Aimes Green, Pitsea, who works at Felmores Dental Surgery, explained her two-year-old miniature dog raised the alarm by whining and tugging at her hair.

“It felt like she was pulling my hair out,” she said.

“The fumes must have knocked me out in the bedroom, I felt really lethargic and couldn’t think, but when I saw the smoke I just knew I had to get up.

“She definitely saved our lives and our other dog Alfie, this place could have just gone up.”

But it isn’t just Frankie who deserves a pat on the back, Marie bravely tackled the fire with a wet mop that was in the bathroom while Sammy, 66, a dock worker at Tilbury, turned off the electricity and opened the windows.

She said: “There were flames everywhere, it was unbelievable, but I just had to put it out.

“I couldn’t see anything when I walked on to the landing, it was completely black with smoke.

“I was bashing it with the mop and walloped the whole lot.

“I don’t care about the damage, I just care that we’re alive.”

The blaze was caused by an electrical fault in the boiler, which was in a cupboard in the bathroom, but the couple had recently ordered a new one that was due to be installed in the next week or two.

Marie added: “It’s expensive but it’s important to change the boiler, people think it’s not, and it’s really important to have smoke alarms too.

“You never think it is going to happen to you and I never thought the boiler would burst into flames like that.”

Fire crews from Basildon were called to the house at about 3am.

Mark Eaglestone, station officer, said the blaze caused “extensive smoke damage” upstairs and the couple both suffered smoke inhalation.

He praised Marie for her bravery and said the couple had been “very lucky”.

He said: “She did well, the action she took was enough to knock the flames back and stop it spreading, but this sends a message out about the importance of having a smoke alarm to get that early detection.”

The couple have thanked their son-in-law Kenny Buckly for rushing to their aid, as well as the firefighters for their help and installing smoke alarms in the house later that day.