PANICKED residents whose home became engulfed in smoke discovered a helium balloon was blocking the chimney.

Firefighters from Newbury Fire Station rushed to the scene of a smoke-filled house in Kings Road West, shortly before 8pm on Friday night.

They arrived to find thick plumes of black smoke filling the building.

An investigation revealed the residents had lit a small fire in the fireplace and a pink helium balloon was wedged in the chimney, trapping the smoke.

Firefighters had to use an enormous 14-metre long pole with a knife perched on its tip to pop the balloon and free the smoke.

Crew manager Mike Wilson said: “We were called to a chimney fire in Newbury.

“When we got there the house was filled with smoke.

“They had lit a fire but there was a helium balloon stuck in the chimney. They had balloons in the house a couple of weeks before and one had made its way up the chimney.

“There wasn’t any smoke damage to the house.”