Two released under investigation after death of man in suspected arson at former care home
Northumbria Police has confirmed a murder inquiry has been launched following the death of the 39-year-old in the early hours of Saturday morning at the former Manor House Care Home in Easington Lane.
Now officers are urging people with information to make contact with investigators as they begin to piece together what happened in the lead up to the tragedy.
The victim has not yet been named, with police working to trace his family.
Men aged 23 and 35 were arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation and have now been released under investigation.
The fire happened just days after the building was at the centre of an earlier police incident when another man was allegedly involved in a rooftop stand-off with officers.
A 41-year-old man has appeared in court charged with burglary, affray, assaulting a police constable, possession of an offensive weapon and four counts of criminal damage after the incident on Wednesday night.
At around 2.40am on Saturday, police received a report of a fire at the residential address on Pemberton Bank, on High Street, Easington Lane.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue attended the scene and brought a number of residents to safety.
The unconscious 39-year-old was pulled from the building, but was pronounced dead a short time later, despite the efforts of firefighters and paramedics to save him.
Detective Inspector Dave English said previously: “This incident has sadly resulted in the death of a 39-year-old man.
"We have two suspects currently in custody but we still need help from the public so we can establish exactly what has happened.
"Anyone who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area needs to get in touch with us as they could assist the investigation.
"We would urge you to come forward.”
A cordon remained in place around the building yesterday, with a specialist search team drafted in as part of the police probe.
Today, the fire service has confirmed it was called to the property at 2.43am and left the scene just before 4am.
Six crews of four firefighters were sent from fire stations at Sunderland Central, Farringdon, West Denton, Gosforth and South Shields.
The officers used hoses, breathing apparatus, thermal image cameras and positive pressure ventilation fan to clear the large building of fumes.
The blaze caused severe fire damage on the ground floor, with light smoke damage to the first and second floors.
The service's chief officer Chris Lowther has praised his officers for their work to try and save the man.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 quoting log 146 031118 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.