YOUTHS were seen setting fire to phone books near a shop and risking causing a major blaze firefighters have said.
Witnesses called police and firefighters after seeing three children at the back of Age Concern, Allaway Avenue, Paulsgrove, on Monday night.
The burning books were found at the back of the building when the crew arrived.
A spokesman at Southsea fire station said: ‘If there had been a window or some kind of air brick that allowed the heat and smoke in the building, we could have potentially been looking at a building fire in a row of shops.’
A crew from Southsea was called at 9.19pm on Monday and spent an hour putting out the fire, and several other small blazes that had been set by the youths along the road.
When they went to check the surrounding area the crew spotted some children in the playground at the back of one of the schools.
A crew was also sent to put out a small fire in open grass at 7.37pm at the corner of Fratton Road and Manor Road.