POLICE and fire officials say that a house fire that killed a 52-year-old woman was not suspicious.

Estelle Teesdale died in the blaze at Scott Street, in Shildon, County Durham, on Thursday.

Mrs Teesdale, who was formally identified yesterday evening, lived at the property with her husband, Anthony, who is also in his 50s.

A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday afternoon.

Det Insp Simon Orton said: “The investigation has shown there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Estelle Teesdale and a file will be duly submitted to the coroner for consideration.”

Part of the street remained cordoned off and under police guard yesterday, as the police and fire service launched a joint investigation into the incident.

The doorway into the blackened house was covered with a large green sheet, and the charred upstairs windows were open as investigations took place.

Mr Teesdale is thought to be staying with relatives elsewhere in the town.

Although he sustained no physical injuries in the fire, he was said to be severely shocked.

Neighbours of the couple continued to speak of their shock.

One woman claimed that Mr Teesdale had been to the nearby shops, and returned to find his wife trapped inside the burning property.

One neighbour said that Mrs Teesdale had suffered illhealth, and was recently released from a stay in hospital.

She said: “Estelle did not deserve to die this way, nobody does.”

A dog belonging to the couple also died in the fire.

The fire service has conducted 53 home fire safety checks in the area since the blaze, which broke out at lunchtime on Thursday, to provide reassurance and advice to residents, and will carry out more this weekend.

Joy Nolan, head of community safety at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, urged people to install at least one smoke alarm on each floor, and test the devices weekly.

She said: “It is also important that every family member knows what to do if there is a fire.

“Having an escape plan can significantly improve the chances of surviving.”

Steve Wharton, the fire brigade’s deputy community safety manager, praised the fire crews for their quick response to the incident.

“Our first appliance was at the scene within six minutes of receiving the call,” he said.

“It was an excellent response, but unfortunately it was not enough to save a life on this occasion.”