Firefighters battling a blaze across two cottages were pulled out of the building as they feared it would collapse.
Crews from Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to the semi-detached homes at Witts End, Eversholt, after a wood burner set fire to the roof.
The fire was tackled from the ground and an aerial platform pouring water into the building.
At one point Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus were withdrawn from the working inside the buildings due to concerns about a potential unstable chimney stack and the safety of the first floor ceiling.
Believing they had extinguished the blaze, crews left after three hours but were called back in the early hours of the following morning as the roof caught light again.
An elderly woman was treated on the scene by ambulance crews for smoke inhalation.
Station Commander Jason Tai said: “All crews who attended the incident worked extremely hard in bringing the initial blaze quickly under control and prevent further spread to the floors below and neighbouring buildings.
“Neither property had a smoke alarm and the owners were only alerted by smelling smoke. A little while later and they could have been asleep.”
He added: “The surrounding community and neighbours rallied together to look after the residents and assisted with removal of valuables.
The emergency call was made on Friday, May 15, with the first fire appliance from Ampthill arriving at 10.07pm.
Three more pumps to support them from Ampthill and Toddington, and the Luton Aerial Platform and a water carrier from Toddington.
By the early hours of the morning of Saturday 16 May the fire was under control and extinguished.
The cottages suffered 100 per cent damage to the roof, and damage to the first floor and first floor ceilings. The ground floor also suffered from water damage due to burst water main pipes.