Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Arson Probe after Blaze Wrecks Flat; Police Investigate after Shouting and Fighting Heard before Fire Broke out at Flat

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Arson Probe after Blaze Wrecks Flat; Police Investigate after Shouting and Fighting Heard before Fire Broke out at Flat

Article excerpt

Byline: Andy Hughes

DETECTIVES and fire chiefs were last night investigating whether an arsonist sparked a fire which damaged a flat in a Northumberland village. A group of young men were believed to be fighting shortly before the blaze broke out in the first-floor dwelling in Seaton Delaval in the early hours of yesterday morning.

A neighbour called 999 at around 2am after he heard a window being broken and then saw smoke coming out of the one-bedroom property in Kearsley Close, which was not occupied at the time. Firefighters from West Hartford Fire Station evacuated residents in the block of flats while they tackled the blaze.

Police arrived shortly afterwards and took statements from neighbours.

One neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "I was lying in bed when I heard people shouting and fighting outside. I could hear loads of banging. Later on, I heard a window smash and when I looked out the flat was on fire.

"It's a good job the firefighters got here when they did because it could have spread to other flats in the block. It seems totally gutted."

He added: "The guy who lives there only moved in a few weeks ago. I think there was a party in the flat earlier that night, but it seemed to turn sour later on because there was loads of shouting and screaming."

The bedroom of the flat was gutted by the blaze and the rest of the property was badly damaged by smoke.

Last night, police and fire chiefs said they were still investigating the cause of the fire, but both refused to rule out arson, although no one has been arrested.

A spokesman for Northumbria Fire Service said last night: "We are still trying to establish whether this fire was started deliberately or accidentally.

"The evidence at the scene was inconclusive. We know there was a disturbance around but that is in the hands of the police. …

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