Firefighters have issued urgent safety advice to council tenants in Melton after a blaze broke out in a town centre block of flats on Friday evening.
Both Melton crews and another from Oakham were called out to tackle the fire in Rutland Street at 6.49pm.
Smoke was seen to be issuing from the landing area between two flats, which is commonly used as a drying area. and police evacuated residents from flats in the area.
After the fire service had put out the blaze, investigators later discovered it had been started by a carelessly discarded cigarette close to a sofa which had been left outside.
Melton fire crew manager Scott Smith said: “The fire service will be working with Melton Borough Council over the next few weeks to tidy up all the flats in the area as these common drying areas should not be used for storing furniture and rubbish.
“Had either of the flat occupants been at home they would not have been able to easily evacuate without being at risk and this certainly needs to be addressed.”
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hose reel to knock down the blaze as residents and other onloookers watched from the street.
Mr Smith said: “A second team wearing breathing apparatus was committed to back up the first and they were able to break into the two flats in between the fire and search for missing people.
“Both flats were empty at the time so the incident was declared that all persons accounted for.”
Firefighters visited occupants of all the Rutland Street council flats over the weekend to give them fire safety advice, ensure they have thought about how to escape the block in the event of a fire and to check they have working smoke alarms.