Quick-thinking officers alerted the fire service which despatched three crews to the scene at The Warren just after 11am.
Four firefighters in breathing gear dashed into the smoke-logged terraced property to make sure no one was inside. The occupiers were out at the time of the drama.
A fire spokesman said at the scene: ‘Police were returning a driver to his home after an accident when they spotted the fire.’
He added: ‘The first floor was totally smoke-logged. The smoke was thick and acrid and difficult to deal with.’
Two hosereel jets and a safety jet were used to extinguish the blaze which was confined to an airing cupboard and parts of the roof above it.
The occupants were later contacted about the incident, which is thought to have been caused by an electrical fault.
Two crews from Newton Abbot tackled the fire together with one from Torquay.
The property was revisited this afternoon to double-check the scene.