A WOMAN who died as fire raged through a tower block in Teesside has been named as "loving sister" Teresa Bolam.

The 58-year-old's body was found after the blaze at the 12-floor flat complex in Thornaby broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Fifty firefighters battled for more than two hours to put out the fire and as they bravely fought the flames to enter the burning flat, found they were too late to save Ms Bolam's life.

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Police said they had taken an unusual step in naming Ms Bolam so early, but said officers needed the public's help in piecing together what happened.

They are treating the fire as unexplained.

Her brother, Malcolm described her as a "loving sister" who he was "going to miss".

A post-mortem examination today indicated that Ms Bolam died as a result of the fire.

Police are now a ppealing to members of the public, and those who might have known the victim, to come forward and help them work out her whereabouts in the 24 hours before her death.

Officers were called to the address, at Anson House in Thornaby, at about 1.55am on Wednesday morning to a report of the fire. Ms Bolam's body was found in the property by emergency services.

Investigations by both Cleveland Police and Cleveland Fire Brigade into the cause of the fire are due to continue.

Detective Inspector Matt Hollingsworth said: “Our thoughts and sympathies are with Teresa’s family.

"It’s extremely important that we are able to pinpoint the cause of the fire, and whilst there is no current suggestion that Teresa died as a result of criminality, we do need to piece together her whereabouts as part of the investigation.

“I’m appealing for anyone who may have seen Teresa in the days prior to her death to contact me.”

The top three floors of the tower block were evacuated during the fire, with Stockton Council opening a nearby leisure centre to offer shelter.

Anyone who may have seen Teresa is asked to call Cleveland Police on the non-emergency number 101.