ARSONISTS started a blaze behind family homes which nearly caused an explosion.
Police are hunting those responsible for setting fire to a stolen moped and leaving it next to a gas canister.
The blaze, which started at 1pm on Sunday, destroyed the vehicle but thanks to the fast actions of neighbours was put out before it could lead to disaster.
Residents said the moped, which was upturned so petrol could leak out, had been used to create a makeshift bomb.
Carole Marsh, of Lime Grove, Paulsgrove, said: ‘I was sitting inside reading a book and I had the kitchen door open.
‘I heard this crackling sound so I stood up and saw a wall of flames rising up behind the house.
‘People were already out there trying to put it out.
‘Whoever it was had got hold of a gas canister and put it next to the burning bike.
‘If that had gone up, I dread to think what might have happened.
‘But to think that someone can come along in the middle of the day and cause this amount of damage is frightening.’
Mrs Marsh said the night before her garage had been broken into and the moped had been stolen from a house nearby.
She said: ‘Kids have been up to mischief up and down here for quite a long time, but this is different.
‘I think someone stole the bike and couldn’t get it to go so they decided to torch it.
‘The police have had a good look around and taken statements and they have sent their forensic people into the garage. They found a hammer and a knife and they are fingerprinting them as far as I know.’
She added that it was a miracle no-one had been badly hurt and urged anyone with information to come forward.
‘They made a bomb out there behind my house,’ she said. ‘Somebody must know who these people are.
‘My neighbours have a little boy, a toddler, what if he had been on the other side of the gate?
‘I’m just absolutely gutted. It’s such a horrible thing to happen and the mess they left was indescribable.’
She added: ‘I’m just so angry about it.’
Anyone with information can call police on 101.