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

The teenage girl was babysitting the youngsters, all aged under 12, at Toft Crescent, Murton, near Seaham, when the fire started just before 11.30pm on Monday.

They were alerted to it by a smoke alarm, and according to 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.

Sub 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 hadn't gone off, we would have been looking at a pre-Christmas tragedy because the children wouldn't have got out."