TWO people were rescued by firefighters after a suspected arson at a block of flats in the early hours of this morning.

One person was rescued through a window using a ladder and the other was led to safety by firefighters with the use of a smoke hood.

Police have arrested a 36-year-old man on suspicion of attempted arson with the intent to endanger life.

The alarm was raised at Tennyson Court, in the Felling area of Gateshead, at 1.45am.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service's Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lynsey McVay said: “Firefighters successfully rescued two occupiers from two separate flats, but thankfully neither required hospital treatment.

"The fire was confined to one room within a flat on the second floor.

"As a precaution the second floor was evacuated due to some smoke logging. The fire alarms activated as required.

“The cause of the fire, is under investigation.”

The suspect was taken into police custody.

Chief Inspector Alan Pitchford, of Northumbria Police, said: “We understand that incidents of this nature can cause concern and shock within the community and this is clearly a serious incident.

"Thankfully, nobody has been injured.

“We are using every tactic at our disposal to carry out a full investigation into the cause of the fire, working with our partners, and we are currently interviewing one man in connection with the blaze.

“I would like to thank residents for their ongoing support as officers carry out a range of enquiries and would ask that anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

“An increased police presence will remain in the areas as officers carry out those enquiries and offer any reassurance to members of the public.”

A spokesperson from The Gateshead Housing Company added: “The block is designed to support a ‘stay put’ policy but, as a precaution, the building was evacuated, and residents were moved to a place of safety whilst crews attended to the fire.

“No one required hospital treatment and the majority of residents have returned back to their flats.

“A ‘stay put’ policy informs residents to remain in their flats unless they are affected by heat or smoke, or are instructed to leave by the fire service.

“Flats in Tennyson Court are divided into ‘fire compartments’ through the use of fire doors, walls and floors, which helps to prevent the spread of fire.

“Compartmentation worked effectively in this instance, as there was minimal smoke spread between flats.

“Individual flats in Tennyson Court are also fitted with smoke detectors, which activate and sound within the flat, which happened in this case.

“In addition, a detection system operates in areas such as lift motor rooms and electrical cupboards. The alarm system follows current guidance for general needs flats.

“We will continue to work with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Northumbria Police during their investigation.”