POLICE probing a gas blast which blew out a window and injured a woman say it was started deliberately.
Sandra Stamp, 44, was showered with glass after an explosion at a house in Sheriff Street, in Hartlepool, which led to dozens of residents being evacuated.
Detectives say inquiries at the scene reveal the fire, which broke out around 12.50pm on Friday, as reported by the Mail, was started on purpose and added someone could have been seriously hurt.
It was thought a stolen boiler from the derelict property led to the blaze, but inquiries into the cause are still ongoing.
Detective Inspector Jon Green said: “We believe the fire was caused deliberately and one possible cause was due to a theft from within the property, although this is yet to be confirmed and we are keeping an open mind.
“Inquiries are ongoing to establish the exact cause of the fire and the reasons for it.
“What is clear though is that somebody could have been seriously hurt.
“It is essential that the person or persons responsible for this are prevented from doing so again.
“There were a number of people in the area at the time and I’m sure somebody will have information that would be of assistance to us.”
Following the blast, around 80 residents from the street, along with elderly people from the nearby Albany Court sheltered housing complex, had to be evacuated.
Nearby Tankerville Street and Thornville Road were also closed to traffic as a precaution.
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Hartlepool CID on (01642) 302126 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.