Tyne & Wear

Fire crews tackle Whitley Bay disused church blaze

Trinity Church, Whitley Bay Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption The church was empty at the time of the fire, the Tyne and Wear Fire Service said

More than 30 firefighters spent four hours tackling a blaze at a church in a seaside town.

Residents living near the disused Trinity United Reform Church on the Esplanade in Whitley Bay were forced to leave their homes after the fire broke out at 20:25 BST on Saturday.

Several are still in a refuge centre and have not been allowed home.

Northumbria Police said the fire was being treated as arson and a man, aged 56, had been arrested.

Det Ins Jane Fairlamb said: "This was a large operation involving a number of partners, all agencies worked together to extinguish the fire and I want to personally thank all of them for their hard work in ensuring that it did not spread to neighbouring properties.

"The fire was successfully extinguished overnight, but a number of people have been housed in temporary accommodation while we carry out some further structural investigations."

Image copyright Northumbria Police
Image caption It took firefighters more than four hours to bring the blaze under control

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