A FIRE broke out in a flat after the tenant tried to singe frayed edges on curtains using her cigarette lighter, a court was told.

Melissa Ann Sinden told police she often performed the practice after her cat, Dave, climbed up the curtains causing the material to fray.

But on the night in question, March 24/25 last year, she went into a bedroom and emerged smelling smoke coming from the living room.

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She discovered fire had broken out and frantically retreated to a bedroom where she tried to smash a window.

Durham Crown Court was told the fire brigade was alerted and firefighter Gary Bankhead rescued Miss Sinden, who appeared to have been drinking.

Adrian Dent, prosecuting, said as Mr Bankhead carried her from the first floor flat, above shops in Cheveley Park, Belmont, Durham, she was shouting hysterically as she wanted to go back to rescue Dave.

Mr Dent said after Miss Sinden received hospital treatment for smoke inhalation and cuts to a hand she was arrested on suspicion of arson.

She gave the explanation about removing the frayed edges from the curtains using her lighter, and told police she had drunk more than a bottle of wine that night.

Mr Dent said although it emerged none of the neighbouring flats in the complex, The Links, was occupied that night there was a potential that her actions could have put people in the vicinity, or the firefighters called to tackle the blaze, in jeopardy.

Forty-one-year-old Miss Sinden, who has been bailed to a hostel out of the area since the incident, denies a charge of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

The trial continues tomorrow (Thursday January 16).