Six fire crews were called to a house fire which spread across a two-storey house.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service was called to the scene in Church Road, Worth, at 11.03am on Friday (December 19).
A spokesman said the blaze started in a kitchen store room on the ground floor and spread to the first floor.
The fire spread to the roof and the bedroom above the kitchen.
The occupants were not in when the fire started.
Their two dogs were let out of the property and were being looked after by a neighbour.
Les Harrison, 70, of Green Lane, Pound Hill, said: “I was in my garden and I could hear the fire engines.
“I knew the dogs were in the back garden.
“The firefighters said I could get in and get the dogs out of the way.”
Crews from as far as Shoreham were at the scene for more than three hours.
Sussex Police was also called and people were evacuated from their homes on the residential street.
The blaze damaged 30 per cent of both floors.
The whole building and its loft space was damaged by smoke.
A specialist breathing apparatus unit was dispatched from Shoreham Fire Station.
Firefighters used a ladder, four hose reels, ten sets of breathing apparatus and compression ventilation fan to contain the fire to the property.
Les looked after the dogs until the occupants returned.
He said they were dog trainers and had left for London for their work that morning.
He added: “They are very very nice people. I couldn’t believe it, it’s just lucky the house hasn’t burned down.”
Investigations into what caused the fire were being carried out on Monday.
The fire spokesman said: “It has not been confirmed as yet but we believe it to be due to a gas leak.
“The cause is still being investigated. There’s no immediately identified cause. They will look to check what the cause was.”