A structural engineer has been called in to oversee the search of a 'dangerous' house for the remains of a man believed to be inside.
BFire crews were called to a 17th century farmhouse in Spout Lane, Stannington, in the early hours of this morning and found the property engulfed in flames.
They found the body of a woman in her 90s close to a door but have not yet been able to enter the property to search for a man who is 'unaccounted for'.
The identify of the woman has not yet been revealed, but she has been named locally as Freda and is said to have lived with her elderly husband, Len.
The farmhouse is cordoned off and a joint fire and police service investigation into the cause of the blaze will be launched once the house is finally searched.
Fire chiefs have brought in a structural engineer to give advice on the safest way of searching the property.
Station manager Spencer Rowland said: "We got the call just after 3am. There were two people reported that may have been inside the building and I am sad to say that we have recovered the body of a female casualty from near to the entry point of the building.
Because of the dangerous nature of the structure because of the fire we are struggling to get in there and commit crews safely.
"We have a structural engineer advising."
He said firefighters would need to take a 'meticulous approach' to searching the house and would have to remove the debris 'bit by bit in a safe manner' to 'try and locale the gentleman if he indeed is in there'.