British singer Michael Ball and his wife narrowly escaped death when his house caught fire.

Ironically, the former theatre star's own music almost contributed to his downfall - he and partner CATHY McGOWAN managed to flee before being overcome by the poisonous gas produced by thousands of his burning CDs.

The crooner explains, "There was a fire in our house. It was 4am and we had an electrical fault in my computer downstairs. All my CDs, gold discs and memorabilia were in that room and it produced a noxious gas. Cathy woke up and got everyone out of the house but we were close to dying."

The recent incident also drove Ball back to smoking, a habit he had struggled hard to quit.

He says, "A fireman gave me a fag (cigarette) and I asked him, 'Have you a light?', in answer to which he pointed to our house."

07/07/2004 13:45