Residents evacuated from homes after huge fire at under construction house in Sunderland
Terrified elderly people had to be evacuated from their homes after a huge blaze at an under construction house.
The fire, which the owner of the house believes was started deliberately, broke out at the building in Grantham Road, in Roker, after 11pm last night, just yards from where Sunderland AFC's former Roker Park ground stood.
Police say an investigation is underway to find out the cause, with the owner of the development claiming it looks to be arson.
Those living in flats in Ashdale Court, just yards away from the house which was ablaze, were evacuated as a precaution while the fire was put out.
Resident Denise Coulson, who lives in Ashdale Court, told the Echo: "It was a big shock and we had to be evacuated straight away.
"We were all standing outside and it was terrible.
"We had to help a lot of elderly people out. Some were terrified."
Emergency services were also praised for their quick response to the fire.
Denise, 57, who has lived in Ashdale Court for two years, said: "The police and fire brigade were brilliant at getting people out.
"One of the ladies living next door said she saw some kids around the house so maybe that's how it was started.
"That area used to be a spray garage and there were always fires being started so people were glad it got pulled down.
"We thought things would be a lot better but now this has happened."
The owner of the property, a man who did not want to be named, said he suspects that the fire was started deliberately.
Workers have since been busy tidying up the site following the blaze.
The owner said: "There were no electrics or gas on site so it must have been started on purpose.
"I just wonder what it is that people get out of doing this.