LIVES were put at risk when a mattress fire was started in a doorway.
The blaze is believed to have been caused by arsonists on Wednesday night in St Stephen’s Road, outside the back entrance to Crown Bingo, in Buckland.
It spread to nearby houses and residents were forced to flee their homes when they started to fill with smoke.
Firefighters arrived at about 8pm and acted quickly to put out the fire by 8.30pm. The blaze caused smoke and minor flame damage to nearby properties but no injuries.
A spokesman from Hampshire Fire and Rescue said that not only had the mattress been left next to people’s homes, but it also blocked the emergency exit of the bingo hall.
He said: ‘It could have been a lot more serious than it was. When people start fires in doorways it can lead to residents becoming trapped inside their homes.
‘These fires can spread to other buildings and put people’s lives in danger. What might start as a small fire can easily get out of control.’
Police are now investigating how the fire started.