DISASTER was narrowly averted after 21 firefighters managed to stop a blaze from an exploding shed spreading to neighbouring houses.
The drama unfolded on Monday afternoon in Towpath Way, Addiscombe, when George Bernard Shaw discovered smoke coming from his garden shed.
When he tried to douse the flames of the fire - likely to have been caused by the hot temperatures - with water, the entire structure exploded in his face and proceeded to spread to the garden.
Firefighters arrived in the nick of time before the flames could spread to a gas heater at the other end of the garden.
An investigation is now under way, although a spokesman for the fire brigade said the blaze could possibly have been caused by sunlight beating down on an aerosol can.
Mr Shaw described how he and his 85-year-old mother, Juliet, were in the house at about 4.30pm when he smelt burning, initially thinking it was his daughter's hair straighteners.
The 50-year-old said: "I went to put it out with a bowl of water and as soon as I did this there was an almighty bang.
"Then the grass was on fire causing my slippers to light up.
"By then I was panicking, the fire was several feet high at this point.
"The next thing I know, my neighbour is trying to put out the fire with his hose."
Four fire engines arrived and managed to bring the fire under control.
A Woodside fire spokesman said: "We believe it was the aerosol cans that started it, with the amount of heat we have had.
"The temperatures and direct sunlight over a period of time can start a reaction – it could take two to three days if you leave something on the windowsill.
"It is a little message not to leave things in direct sunlight."
Mr Shaw, however, insisted there were no aerosols in the shed, which he said contained some alcohol, garden furniture and paint.
Although the garden was left a mess, minimal damage was caused to his house.