A 72-year-old man suffered serious burns and had to be rescued by a neighbour when his house caught fire this morning.

The ambulance service was called to a house in Brookfield Close, Mill Hill at 4.45am and paramedics treated a man for burns and smoke inhalation.

He was rushed to St Mary’s Hospital for treatment.

About 20 firefighters were also called to the scene, but not until 5.44am.

The house was badly damaged and the roof was completely destroyed despite the best efforts of firefighters from Mill Hill Hendon and Finchley.

Matthew Goad, the firefighter who was in charge of the incident, said: “When we arrived on the scene we could see flames coming from the ground and first floor windows and quickly realised how serious the fire was.

“Our firefighters worked incredibly hard for several hours and despite the fact that the flames had already spread into next door’s roof, they prevented that house from being badly damaged.

“Fortunately there was no one inside the house when we arrived. We think that the elderly man that lived in the house had been rescued by his next door neighbour.”

Investigators are currently at the scene trying to establish how the fire started.