A family fled their home in the middle of the night after a devastating fire destroyed their back garden and killed their pet guinea pig.
Laura McLaughlin woke up at 2am to see her garden engulfed in flames during the terrifying incident, and gathered her children before the fire could spread to the house.
The entire decking area was incinerated within minutes, including an inflatable hot tub, Chronicle Live reports.
“I woke up, heard the fire raging and an explosion, and when I looked outside the whole place was just in flames, the mum-of-two said. “It was a huge shock.
“It set fire to our fence, the wheelie bin, burnt the guinea pig cage and burnt the hot tub.”
Crews from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service put out the blaze, but it was too late to save the garden.
The fire also damaged a car but it is the “irreplaceable” loss of the family’s five-year-old guinea pig Mr Squeak that left the family heartbroken.
Laura, who works for a local haulage company, said: “The whole street has come together to help us out and its brought something good out of it.
“I only work part-time and we had saved up to buy our first inflatable hot tub from the supermarket.
“After the fire, we thought we had lost our little bit of happiness that’s helped us so much during the pandemic.
“Our replacement spa from Wave has really been the pick me up we’ve needed, especially for my daughter Ellie, having lost her little companion.”
A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said an investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.