A man was taken to hospital after a house fire last night.
Fire crews from Durham and High Handenhold were called to Gainford in Chester-le-Street around 8pm.
One man was taken to hospital suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.
Crew manager Scott Forward, from High Handenhold, said the situation could have been far worse.
"It was a very serious house fire," he said.
"It could have been a fatality - the whole house is gutted.
"When the crew arrived, flames were coming out of the upstairs windows.
"It has been a very serious incident."
Crews had struggled to get into the property: "He had a lot of old video tapes, papers, stuff like that," said Crew Manager Forward.
"We will be out in the area today fitting smoke alarms and anyone else who wants one can contact brigade headquarters."