HOUSES had to be evacuated after a suspected gas blast in a terraced street.
Shocked neighbours were ordered out of their properties as fire crews battled the fierce blaze which ripped through the house in Rydal Street, off Elwick Road, in Hartlepool.
The strength of the blast caused the roof of the unoccupied house to lift, and the chimney to topple over.
A police and fire brigade investigation is underway into the cause of the blaze, which happened just before 11pm last night. But fire officers believe the incident was caused by a gas explosion.