A fire that severely damaged a Mt Albert house is a reminder to ensure you have working smoke alarms. The fire service was called to the New North Rd house at 11.45am on Monday. Senior fire risk management officer and investigator Russell Dickson says the blaze was started by a bathroom extractor fan. Neighbour Sean Taylor and other neighbours called 111. ‘‘There was thick black smoke billowing out the back of the house, you’ve never seen so much smoke,’’ he says. The fire wasn’t large but was burning for some time before the occupants of the house noticed and the property has been left with a lot of smoke damage, Mr Dickson says. ‘‘The amount of times we see these kinds of fires . . . working smoke alarms would save a lot of grief,’’ he says.