A resident says she had a lucky escape after a major fire took hold in the house next door in the middle of the night.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, says she could have been killed by the blaze which destroyed a terraced house in Dorset Street, off Oxford Road, Hartlepool.
Residents reported the house’s windows were blown out by an explosion.
Nobody was in the house at the time of the fire and neighbours said there had been people coming and going in recent days. The cause is being investigated.
The next door neighbour said: “It’s an absolute shock. I could have been dead.
“I definitely had a lucky escape.
“At about 3am I heard a load of commotion in the street. I looked out my window and could see the reflection of the fire in the window of the house opposite.”
She left her house and went into the street.
“The house just went boom,” she added. “All the windows went out. The full house has gone, there’s no plaster on the wall and no ceilings up.”
A Ford Fiesta car belonging to Tom Walker, who lives opposite, was parked outside the house and suffered heat damage.
Tom, 35, a digital project manager, said: “My partner saw the fire. I came out to move the car but the heat was too much so I had to leave it.
“At the same time I was waking the next door neighbour up and others came out as well.
“The fire was coming out of the bottom window and was licking over the top.
“There was an explosion mid way through. Then the fire brigade turned up.”
Two fire engines from Hartlepool Community Fire Station and one from Billingham attended the incident.
The brigade said the living room and hall area were severely damaged.
Luckily, the houses on either side suffered only smoke damage.
Police also attended.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “The fire service has requested an investigation to ascertain the cause. Inquiries are ongoing.”