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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"This was mindless vandalism at its very worst, which has wrecked a much-loved community facility."
Three people have been taken to hospital after a taxi collided with pedestrians and a lamppost this afternoon.
The antique vase, which was unearthed at a home in the Black Country, has been described by auctioneers as 'the find of a lifetime.'