Flats in north Watford had to be evacuated after a pile of oily tea towels caught light in a launderette.
Firefighters were called to North Watford Launderette in St Albans Road at around 8.50pm yesterday after residents reported smoke coming through the floor of the flats above the business.
Watch commander Tony Smith, from Garston Fire Station, said when his men arrived smoke was coming through the shutters of the launderette.
He said: "We had to cut our way through the shutters using a disc cutter. It was heavily smoked logged so the crew went in and located the fire with a thermal imaging camera.
"There was considerable damage to the property."
Mr Smith added that no one was injured in the blaze.