Residents in a County Durham village say that are devastated that their church hall, which they have raising money to restore, has been gutted by fire.
The hall at St John's church in Meadowfield had been closed while locals worked to raise £50 thousand to make much needed repairs.
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He was told he was being let go by the Magpies in May.
A joint bid could see Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington the region become a cultural capital.
Witnesses say they were told to stay in their homes after the incident last night.