A COUPLE escaped a fire on their houseboat in the early hours of this morning.

Fire crews were called out to Hartlepool Marina just after 3.30am today (MONDAY) and spent an hour putting the blaze out.

A man in his 40s suffered smoke inhalation and cuts and bruises as he climbed through a window after he ran back on to the houseboat to rescue two cats. A woman and the cats were unhurt.

Firefighters warned people of the dangers of rescuing pets from burning buildings and said the couple were lucky to escape without serious harm.

The fire is being investigated but is being treated as accidental at this point.