An 18-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson after an early hours house blaze.
Detectives say inquiries are continuing into the fire, which started at around 2.20am on Wednesday, August 22, at a home in Clappersgate, Easington Colliery.
The man, who is local to the area, has been released as officers work on gathering further evidence surrounding the blaze, which was started deliberately.
As part of their investigation, they are searching for a wheelchair which they think was taken from inside the empty house and could hold clues which could further their probe.
It was seen in the area at the time of the incident and are appealing for anyone who finds one dumped nearby to get in touch.
CCTV stills have also been released as part of a fresh appeal.
Detective Constable John Forster, of Peterlee CID, said: “Officers have been asked to look out for the wheelchair, but if anyone finds one, we’d like to hear from them.
“Our inquiries are continuing and I’d like anyone with information which they think could help to give us a call.
The fire started in the porch area of the house and has caused a lot of damage.Detective Constable John Forster
“The fire started in the porch area of the house and has caused a lot of damage.
“It was spotted by a man who had just finished work and saw it on the way home and we’re very grateful for him, because it could have been a lot worse.
“Thankfully the elderly man who had been living there had moved into a nursing home a short time before the fire.
“We’ve told him about what’s happened and he’s taken it quite well, but this is an upsetting thing to happen for him and his family, as the house has been with them for a long time.
“We would like to find out who did this for them and everyone else in the community.”
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service sent two crews from Peterlee, another from Seaham and two officers to the incident.
Four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus were sent in to the detached house to tackle the fire using hose reels and used fans to clear the property of smoke.
The house was sealed off by police as investigations began, while the fire service visited the village to pass out leaflets with the Firestoppers number on and encouraging anyone with any information to make contact.
Like Crimestoppers, Firestoppers gives people the power to speak up and stop arson enormously can be contacted on 0800 169 5558.
Anyone with information about the blaze, or seen or found the wheelchair, can call Durham Constabulary on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org/.