Cannabis farm may have caused Sunderland house blaze
Cannabis-growing equipment may have caused a fire that gutted a terraced house, police believe.
No-one was hurt in the blaze, which broke out in the roof space of the property in Cooper Street, Sunderland at abut 05:30 GMT.
An elderly woman in the house next door was led to safety by two passers-by.
Tyne and Wear Fire Service said the rented property was empty at the time. The owner has yet to be contacted.
'Force way in'
A spokesman said: "The whole street was smoked-logged when we arrived so we knew we had a pretty serious fire.
"The property was empty at the time and the fire looks to have started in the roof space.
"We had to force our way in and two male members of the public got a woman from the house next door out as there was a risk the fire could spread."
A Northumbria Police spokesman added: "It's not believed anyone was in the property at the time and no-one has been seriously injured.
"Initial inquiries suggest there was a cannabis farm inside."
It took firefighters about three hours to bring the blaze under control.