A MAN has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and arson, following a fire which left a woman with serious burns.

Detectives are questioning a 40-year-old man in connection with the fire in Geneva Road, Darlington, on Monday evening.

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Dozens of firefighters attended the incident, in which a fire broke out in a flat above a convenience store.

A joint police and fire service investigation quickly concluded that the fire had been started deliberately.

Officers believe petrol - which may have been stolen - may have been used to start the fire.

A 30-year-old woman, who was in the building at the time of the fire, remains in a 'poorly but stable' condition in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

She suffered burns to her arms, feet and face.

Detectives in Darlington arrested a 40-year-old man on Wednesday morning, on suspicion of attempted murder and arson with intent to endanger life.

He is being question by officers at Darlington police station.

Police have made a repeated appeal for witnesses to come forward.

Detective Inspector Wendy Tinkler, who is leading the investigation, said: "As our investigation progresses we have reason to believe that petrol was used to start the fire and that it may have been stolen.

"Investigations are underway to determine where the petrol has potentially been stolen from and my officers are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry.

"With this in mind I would like to appeal to anyone in or around the Geneva Road area who has recently been a victim of petrol theft - be it from a shed, garage or outbuilding or from the fuel tank of their car - to get in touch.

"It may be that you hold vital information which can help us to determine exactly where the petrol used to start the fire came from."

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800-555-111.