A man has been arrested on suspicion of growing cannabis discovered after electrical equipment in a loft overheated and started a fire.
The fire brigade and police dashed to the terraced house in Eskdale Road, in Owton Manor, Hartlepool, at 9.30am yesterday after the flames ripped through the loft space.
Fire chiefs say it is believed the fire was caused by electrical equipment used in the growing of cannabis.
A 54-year-old man was arrested by Cleveland Police on suspicion of production of cannabis and he has been bailed pending further enquiries.
Three fire engines from Stranton Fire Station in Hartlepool and Thornaby tackled the large fire.
It was confined to the loft, but neighbouring properties suffered some smoke damage.
Witnesses said people were in the house at the time, but had all got out before the fire brigade arrived. No-one was hurt.
Near neighbour David Allen said: “I just saw the smoke. It went all the way along the road.
“Somebody went across and banged on the door and shouted ‘your house is on fire’.”
The brigade taped off the road around the house while they dealt with the incident.
It has issued advice to prevent electrical fires.
John Feeney, group manager with Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Electrical-related fires account for a significant number of house fires.
“We strongly advise that people do not tamper with the main electrical supply for any reason and any electrical work in properties should always be carried out by a certified electrician.”
The house in Eskdale Road is owned by social housing group Thirteen.
A spokesman for the landlord said: “We would like to thank the fire service for the prompt and professional response. Fortunately, it appears that there were no injuries as a result of this incident, and we will assist the tenant in finding short-term accommodation while the damage to the property is assessed.”
Anyone with information about drugs activity in their area is asked to contact police on 101 or the Community Drugs Enforcement Team on the confidential number 0800 0929702.