A WOMAN jumped for her life after an arsonist torched her home.
The householder was woken by a loud bang as the fire engulfed the terrace house in Princess Road, Seaham.
Residents watched in horror as the woman jumped from a rear window of the home on to a lower roof and down to the backyard of the adjacent property.
She was taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation and has since been discharged.
The fire service said the woman, who lives there with her family, was the only person inside the house.
The heat and force of the fire caused the ground-floor windows to shatter, with the uPvc door destroyed by the heat.
Fire investigators believe the blaze was started using a liquid accelerant.
Residents living on either side of the house, opposite the junction of Rainton Street and close to the town’s fire station, had to be evacuated, with fans used to clear their homes of smoke.
Yesterday, the boarded-up house remained cordoned off by police as an investigation continued, with letters posted to nearby homes appealing for information.
The house will have to undergo extensive refurbishment before it can be lived in again.
Peter McDermott, duty officer with County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, is leading inquiries.
He said: “All the doors inside the house had been left open, so the fire has spread right through and every room has been severely smoke damaged or burnt.”
It is believed the house had smoke alarms, but the sound of the bang is what woke the woman.
Detective Inspector Lyn Peart said: “We are particularly keen to identify anyone seen acting suspiciously in the Princess Road area of Seaham between 1am and 1.15am on the morning of Sunday.
“It may well be that the person or people responsible suffered burns and we would ask anyone with any information that might help police with inquiries to contact the serious crime team at Peterlee.”
One neighbour, a 36-year-old woman who asked not to be named, said: “I just woke up when I heard the bang and when I opened my eyes my bedroom was all glowing.
“I hopped out of bed and saw flames coming out and then rang the services and they came out.
“I saw the woman come out of the neighbour’s door in her nightclothes and say ‘that’s my house’ and the next thing I knew was the police and ambulance came.”
Police have appealed for witnesses and asked anyone with information to call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.