PART of a former nursing home was badly damaged by fire after a blaze broke out inside.
Firefighters were called to the empty Holmewood residential home in Stockton Road, Hartlepool, around midnight on Saturday.
The cause is now the focus of a joint investigation between the fire brigade and police.
Up to seven fire engines tackled the blaze at its height, which was started in the former dining room on the ground floor.
Fire watch manager Marty Challoner, of Hartlepool’s Stranton station, said the fire was “well developed” when they arrived.
Officers wearing breathing masks also checked every room of the detached building to make sure there was nobody inside.
The search was even more hazardous as the building was missing several floor boards.
Watch manager Challoner added: “The room itself was 100 per cent damaged, there was heat damage to surrounding rooms and smoke damage to the full premises.”
The brigade spent more than two hours at the scene.
l FIRE chiefs are reminding the public they can use a charity phone line with information about suspicious blazes.
Hartlepool fire service is promoting the use of Crimestoppers for people to call with information.
Watch manager Challoner said: “Crimestoppers is available for all sorts of things.
“People don’t automatically think about fires but it is a facility that’s available.”
Crimestoppers is free and the number is 0800 555111.