A PRISON officer needed hospital treatment last night after rescuing an inmate from his blazing cell.

The prisoner, in his early 20s, was also injured and needed medical attention after the blaze, at Stockton's Holme House prison.

Neither man was thought to have been seriously hurt, thanks to the prompt response of the guard, who was praised by firefighters for actions that probably saved the prisoner's life.

Four fire crews, from Stockton and Thornaby, were called to the prison at 8.45pm last night.

It is thought the blaze was started deliberately inside the cell. The officer raised the alarm when he noticed smoke coming from the room.

Station officer Alan Powles said: "This prison officer has done an excellent job in getting him out, because there was quite a lot of smoke."

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus went into the smoke-logged cell to put out the fire as the rest of the prison was locked down.

The prisoner suffered slight burns and the effects of smoke inhalation. He was treated with oxygen at the scene before being moved to the prison's medical unit.

The prison officer, thought to be middle-aged, was also treated for the effects of smoke inhalation.

The cell was severely damaged in the incident, which fire crews took 30 minutes to bring under control.