Charity 'so lucky' to escape blaze

A CREATIVE arts charity is back open after being "lucky" to escape a raging fire that hit a neighbouring firm.

Dawn and Ian McManus, who set up the Red Dreams organisation in memory of their 16-year-old son Kyle, are based just two doors away from Shields Interiors, a family business which went up in flames on Thursday.

The couple were worried their 20,000 unit would be destroyed as around 50 firefighters from across Teesside tackled the inferno at the business, based in Whitby Street South, Hartlepool, after the fire broke out just after 9am.

At one point, firefighters were worried that the building could collapse and fall towards Red Dreams.

But today, Dawn, 39, who helps nurture young talent in memory of Kyle at the studio, who died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage in 2007, said: "Surprisingly, we got down there and our place is absolutely fine.

"There isn't even a smell of smoke, even though the fire brigade said there could be because it may take a few days to air out."

Dawn, who lives in the Owton Manor area, said the Red Dreams unit was closed when the blaze broke out but a worker from Anvil Gates and Railings, which is between Red Dreams and Shields Interiors, had rang her on Thursday to tell her not to venture to the studio as the area was cordoned off.

She added: "We were so concerned. My first concern was had everybody got out?

"We thought straight away 'we are insured if anything happens', but then we realised we had no back-up for all our data. It would have thrown us behind by years."

The unit was opened in September 2009 after 18 months of work to get it off the ground.

Dawn said: "We have been very lucky.

"It's so tragic for Gary Shields.

"I know it's a family business for him and would be so devastating for him.

"We really feel for him."

The cause of the fire is still unknown and is being investigated.