A TEENAGER and four children are lucky to be alive after fire broke out in a bedroom.

The teenage girl was babysitting the youngsters at Toft Crescent, Murton, near Seaham, east Durham, when the fire started at about 11.30pm on Monday.

They were alerted by a smoke alarm, and, in line with advice they had been given in a fire safety talk, left the house immediately.

Six children and two adults, some of whom arrived at the scene later, were taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and shock.

Fire brigade officer Tony Grufferty said the incident could have been fatal. "As we hit the top of the avenue, we could see the smoke, then we saw smoke and flames coming out of the bedroom," he said.

"If the smoke alarm had not gone off, we would have been looking at a pre-Christmas tragedy because the children would not have got out.