'The flames were absolutely horrendous' - Sunderland man relives terrifying arson attack

A Sunderland man has spoken of the terrifying moment the house next door was the target of an arson attack.

Wednesday, 10th July 2019, 3:18 pm

Gordon Tate was in bed at home in Fenton Terrace, New Herrington, early today, when the fire broke out.

Gordon, who lives alone with his dog, said he had heard noises outside: “It was about half past one in the morning and I heard one or two noises,” he said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Gordon Tate

“There were a few bangs and I heard a car screech off, then all of a sudden...whoosh. I was shocked – the flames were coming out of the door.

“I rang 999 and they told me to get out of the house straightaway because my house was filling with smoke. I thought ‘Christ alive, it’s going to come into my house.’

“The flames were absolutely horrendous.

He did not get a look at those responsible: “I just wish I had looked out of the window, but at half past one in the morning, you just want to go to sleep,” he said.

Gordon, 71, is full of praise for the response from the emergency services: “The fire brigade were here after about ten minutes and they got the road cordoned off,” he said.

“They got the fire out and ventilated my house. I thought they were spot on – they were excellent.”

He believes the situation could have been much worse if he had not been able to raise the alarm so quickly.

“It is a good job I was here,” he said.

“If I had been on holiday, the whole street could have gone up. The lofts here go all the way along. If the fire had got up aheight, it would have just carried on along the terrace."

Gordon does not know much about the family who live in the house – a couple with a young daughter – but they were not home at the time of the attack.

A crew from North Moor fire station was called to a house in Fenton Terrace, New Herrington, at 1.30am on Wednesday, July 10.

Watch Manager Ian Richardson said the exact circumstances were unclear, but it was believed the fire had been started deliberately.

He said: “Combustible material of some kind was pushed through the letter box.

“The house was unoccupied at the time but there was a smoke alarm which activated.”

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “Shortly after 2am today (Wednesday), police were alerted by the fire service to a blaze at an address on Fenton Terrace, New Herrington.

“Officers attended and found that a fire had broken out at an empty property.

“An investigation has been launched, and at this stage, police are treating the incident as suspected arson. Inquiries are ongoing to trace those involved.”