Firefighters in Abingdon had to perform an emergency rescue operation in their own homes after rising flood waters gushed through their front doors.

The irony was not lost on the 12 men from Abingdon fire station whose houses flooded in the early hours of Sunday.

But after realising tens of thousands of pounds worth of goods and possessions were destroyed, they called in for duty and went out to help others.

Their houses in Meadowside, just yards from the town's fire station which has since been relocated to Dalton Barracks, were breached by flood water when the River Ock burst its banks.

At its peak two feet of water - including raw sewage - gushed into the homes of the full-time firefighters leaving them just enough time to locate insurance documents and valuables.

Sofas, computers, televisions, fridges, freezers, washing machines and other personal possessions were destroyed.

The men - some of whom were told to rest by Oxfordshire's Chief Fire Officer John Parry - ignored orders and went to help those stranded in the rising waters. One was watch manager Gary Walker, 46, who finishes duty on Wednesday night.

The married father-of-two said: "I was at a birthday party on Saturday night and got a call to go home.

"At 11.45pm the River Ock, which is 40ft away from the house, was very high but had not burst its banks.

"By the time I had walked from the river to the front door the banks had burst and by 12.15pm water just flew straight in and was two feet high.

"I have never seen anything like it."

The firefighters' families have been told they will be out of their homes and in temporary accommodation for up to six months.

Since the start of the floods on Friday, the fire and rescue service in Oxfordshire has fielded 1,700 calls and rescued 120 people by water craft.

And all 600 firefighters and 35 fire engines have been deployed at one stage.

Mr Parry said: "This has been the biggest sustained operation in my 28 years in the fire service.

"We had staff coming in off duty and all our rescue services were deployed."