FIREFIGHTERS were called out twice in 24 hours to a blaze at the same Teesside garage in what is believed to be a double arson attack.

The first fire, at a vehicle repair garage in the former Co-op building at the junction of Romney Street and Clifton Street, Middlesbrough, was quickly extinguished in the early hours of Monday morning.

But it took firefighters more than three hours to quell the second blaze later the same day.

Middlesbrough Station Officer Ron Carr said it was highly likely that both fires had been started deliberately.

"There were signs of forced entry the first time. When we went back it was the same area - a back door on Romney Street - forced again," he said.

Six pumps attended the second blaze at 6pm and residents from nearby houses were evacuated as the flames started to spread.

Mr Carr said: "When we pulled up there were flames which had actually broken through the roof space. Luckily, there was no one in the building. We couldn't fight the fire from inside the building."

He said the main danger had been to members of the public watching the fire from the street. "At one stage there was a danger of the gable end collapsing."

An adjoining house was left with smoke damage while the garage - which had four vehicles inside - was badly fire damaged.

The premises were cordoned off yesterday in case of collapse, as members of the joint police and fire brigade arson investigation team sifted through the debris for clues as to how the blaze began.

Structural engineers were also deciding whether the building should be demolished.