John-Paul Benoist was visiting his family in Newcastle when his wife rang him to inform him of the fire.
They spent last night in an evacuation centre and have only returned to their home this afternoon.
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New guidance on when a "major incident" can be declared by hospitals has been criticised by Labour in a furious showdown in the Commons.
A largely sunny, but cold, afternoon with the odd isolated wintry shower possible.
Becoming brighter with sunny spells but a few sleet and snow showers will develop.