A HOUSE fire which forced five people to flee to safety is being treated as arson.

Durham Police and the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service have launched a joint investigation after the blaze broke out in the early hours of this morning (Thursday, May 29) at a semi-detached house on Burns Terrace, Wheatley Hill, east Durham.

Five people, three adults and two children, were forced to escape the house.

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They all got out uninjured but police say it is fortunate no-one was injured and the incident is being treated as arson.

Police are appealing for information about the fire and asking anyone who can help their investigation to call Peterlee CID on 101, extension 670 2611.

The fire comes just days after 14 members of the same family had to escape a house fire in Blackhill, Consett.