Police are investigating after a number of taxis belonging to the Andicars cab firm were engulfed in fire.
Police and fire crews from Havant were called to an arson attack at the Andicars depot in Downley Road at 2.45am today.
They spent more than an hour controlling the blaze which hit 15 cars, before handing the investigation over to Hampshire Police. Detectives said seven vehicles had have been burnt out or severely damaged as a result of the blaze.
One neighbour described the incident as being like a series of gunshots.
It is believed the arsonists got into the back of the depot by climbing over the Nutwick Road railway footbridge and cut through two wire fences.
The neighbour said: ‘There was a series of bangs, which sounded just like guns going off, but then we looked out and saw the smoke and the flames.’
It is not yet clear how many cars were affected and a spokesman for the police said the investigation was ‘in the early stages’.
The fire is another blow to the firm after a series of incidents in which its vehicles have been damaged.
As previously reported in The News, 11 of Andicars’ new fleet of cabs were damaged in the past few months when paint stripper was poured over them by vandals, leaving the firm with a hefty repair bill.
At that time the firm’s owners said: ‘We have recently invested in a fleet of new cars and someone appears to be trying to sabotage our business.
‘We want this person stopped, so if you have any idea who it may be please tell us so we can pass the information to the police.
‘We are a local firm providing work for local drivers, well-known and well-used by everyone in Havant.
‘Everyone else tells us we do everything right – so what we have done to upset this individual is a mystery.’
DS Fiona Holland said it was believed a hole was cut in fencing to gain entry to the compound sometime after 2am.
She said: ‘We are aware of previous reports of damage to Andicars vehicles and looking into the possibility that they may be connected to this most recent incident. At this stage we have no evidence to confirm they are linked.
‘We would appeal to anyone who may have seen suspicious people or vehicles in the area of Downley Road in the early hours of the morning, or has any information about who may be responsible to contact us.’
Anyone with information should contact CID at Waterlooville police station on 101. Alernatively call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.