AN elderly couple were lucky to escape with their lives after fire raged through their home.
The 80-year-old man and his 79-year-old wife were inside the house in South View, South Hylton, when a blaze broke out in a cupboard under the stairs.
Alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm, the pensioners were able to quickly get out of their Gentoo home.
Fire spread through the ground floor of the semi-detached house and thick smoke spread right through the property, causing all rooms and the roof void to be destroyed by smoke damage.
The heavy smoke also spread into the roof void of the neighbouring property, which had to be evacuated as well.
Stacey Petre, 26, who lives there with her partner, James McCluskey, 29, and their three-year-old daughter, Olivia, said the first she knew was when James phoned to tell her what was happening.
She said: “I’m so thankful the fire happened in the afternoon, I dread to think what could have been the outcome if it had been in the middle of the night and we were all asleep in bed.
“We are just lucky that no-one has been hurt.”
Stacey, James and Olivia are currently staying with family until the smell of smoke can be cleared from their house, but she says the pensioners will have lost all their possessions in the fire, and have been rehoused.
The Aldi worker, said: “Everything in our house stinks of smoke. We are getting married in 10 weeks and a lot of the wedding stuff is in one of the bedrooms – but it is a small price to pay.
“Our neighbours will have lost everything.”
Two appliances from Farringdon Fire Station were called to the blaze at 2.30pm on Saturday and were there for about three hours.
Crew manager Ron Monaghan said the smoke alarm could have saved the lives of the pensioners.
He said: “They had been in the house at the time the fire broke out, so an ambulance was called. The couple were treated by paramedics for shock and possible smoke inhalation. They were shaken and upset, but ok and didn’t need to go to hospital.”
Mr Monaghan said the cause of the blaze is under investigation, but fire officers say they have ruled out arson and believe it was sparked by an electrical fault.