Neighbours have told of their shock after an elderly woman was found dead in circumstances the police are treating as suspicious.
The body of the woman was found inside an address on Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, this morning, after police were called to a report of a house fire.
It was definitely a shock to the system for all of usKevin Collier
There was a heavy police presence in the street in the hours which followed, as well as a forensics team.
A post mortem examination will be held today, and police are appealing for witnesses.
Residents of the street have described their surprise at the incident in what is generally thought of as a quiet area.
Kevin Collier, who has lived there for about 30 years, said: “It’s very surprising to see anything like this happen on this street.
“I’ve never known there to be any problems in all the time I’ve lived here.
“The neighbours are all lovely, and this is just not something you’d think would occur.
“I had been out, but when I came back home, the street was full of police, forensics, the fire service and ambulances.
“You don’t even normally see the police here, never mind a huge presence like there was for this.
“It was definitely a shock to the system for all of us.”
Another resident of the road, who did not wish to be named, said: “Nothing like this ever happens in this area.
“It’s very quiet and peaceful, so it’s shocking to see that someone has died.
“It’s a tragedy, and it certainly seemed to be treated as a major incident.
“There were so many police officers, as well as members of the forensics team and the fire service.
“To know that someone has lost their life is so upsetting, especially in a street as friendly as this.”
A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “Police were called to a report of a house fire at an address on Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, at around 8.25am on Sunday, April 3.
“The body of an elderly woman was found inside the address and officers are currently treating her death as suspicious. A post mortem examination will be held later today.
“Anyone who may have information regarding the fire or anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious in the area of Westbourne Road on Sunday morning is asked to contact Cleveland Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”