Two men have been arrested following a fire at a flat in South Tyneside.
Emergency services were scrambled to Gordon Road in West Harton, South Shields, at about 8.15pm yesterday.
The fire in the downstairs flat was started maliciously after clothes, rubbish and suitcases in the back yard were set ablaze.
Two men, both aged 19 have been arrested and remain in police custody.
The fire spread to the flat, which was not fitted with smoke alarms, and also spread to the property upstairs, with smoke getting in the open windows causing their alarms to go off.
Three fire engines from South Shields station attended the scene, as well as police and the ambulance service.
It was thought that people may still be inside the property, but they were not there by the time firefighters arrived and no-one was injured in the blaze.
A neighbour said: “Everyone in the street said they had heard loads of commotion in the black lane.
“I was just watching the television and I heard lots of sirens and thought, ‘that sounds really close’.
“So I went outside and there was a lot of people standing around and of course the fire brigade was there.”
Firefighters also carried out checks on neighbouring properties to ensure they were fitted with working smoke alarms.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “At around 8.15pm on July 9, police were called to a fire at an address in Gordon Road, South Shields.
“Officers were assisting the fire service with the incident. Nobody was in the flat at the time and no-one was injured.
“The incident is currently being treated as arson and two men, both aged 19, have been arrested.”
Police are appealing for witnesses. Anyone with information should contact police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference number 1065 09/07/15.