A masked gang are being hunted by police after a petrol bomb attack on a Hartlepool house.
Up to nine men with covered faces are said to have driven into Furness Street, off Raby Road, Hartlepool, at about 8.30pm on Thursday night, smashed the windows of the house and thrown the incendiary inside.
There was nobody in the house at the time and the fire brigade quickly arrived and put out the blaze.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Police received several reports relating to a suspicious incident on Furness Street in Hartlepool at around 8.30pm on Thursday night.
“Witnesses reported seeing up to eight or nine men with their faces covered get out of three vehicles, smash windows at a house, then throw what is described as a petrol bomb into the address, before driving from the scene.
“One vehicle was possibly a pick-up type van.
“The house was unoccupied at the time and the fire was extinguished.
“Inquiries are on-going and we appeal for any local people who may have captured anything on private CCTV systems to get in touch via the 101 number. Please quote Event 235349.”
Residents told of their fear after the incident.
A 22-year-old woman who lives in the street said: “I heard cars, then I heard a big bang but didn’t see who done it.
“I heard them boot the door open and saw the fire.
“I want to move. This end of the street is fine but down there there is trouble.
“It’s getting beyond a joke. I’m too scared to leave my door open.”
The woman’s partner, who did not wish to be named, added: “We just keep ourselves to ourselves but I am a bit worried to be honest.
“The amount of fights there has been on the street is ridiculous.”
Daniel Hurst, 33, a dad of four who has lived in the street for three years, said: “I didn’t even know [what had happened] until I saw all the flashing lights.
“It’s normally quiet up this end. I keep myself to myself.”
A 24-year-old woman, who did not wish to be named, added: “When I came out all the police were here.
“I don’t know what happened. There were two fire engines.”
A police car remained outside the house today.
Its front door and downstairs window were boarded up and broken glass was on the pavement.
A spokesman for Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “We were called out to Furnace Street at 8.35pm on December 27,
“There was quite a small fire and damage was caused to a curtain.
“The incident was handed over to the police.”
Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers via their website at www.crimestoppers-uk.org or by calling 0800 555111.