HOUSES were evacuated and a street closed for two-and-a-half hours while a gas leak was fixed.
Firefighters were called to Herworth Street, in the Dyke House area of Hartlepool, to reports of gas seeping from one of the terraced houses.
It was found to be coming from an unoccupied house that is suspected to have been targeted by thieves trying to steal copper piping.
A crew from Stranton Fire Station stood guard as a precaution while the gas board saw to the problem.
Police are now investigating the incident that happened at 8.55am yesterday.
Anyone with information about metal thefts in the town are asked to contact Hartlepool Police on (01642) 326326.