Police have arrested a 56-year-old man in connection with last night's church fire in Whitley Bay as they continue to appeal for witnesses.
Emergency services spent hours tackling a major fire at the Trinity United Reformed Church on the Esplanade last night.
The fire was eventually extinguished by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, but emergency services remain at the scene this morning to carry out inquiries.
An investigation is already under way to establish the cause of the fire, but police are treating the incident as suspicious and have already arrested a 56-year-old man. He remains in police custody as police continue their inquiries and officers are now appealing for anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area to get in touch.
Detective Inspector Jane Fairlamb said: "This was a large operation involving a number of partners, all agencies worked together to extinguish the fire and I want to personally thank all of them for their hard work in ensuring that it did not spread to neighbouring properties.
"The fire was successfully extinguished overnight, but a number of people have been housed in temporary accommodation while we carry out some further structural investigations. We want to thank all those affected for their patience while we dealt with the incident and also thank everyone who supported the emergency services who responded to the incident last night.
"A full investigation into the cause of the fire is under way and we are now appealing for anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area to get in touch. If you know who is responsible then we need to hear from you."
If you have any information that may help the police investigation then contact officers on 101, quoting log 1028 06/05/17, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.