FAMILIES have told of their terror after they woke up to a wall of flames engulfing cars, caravans and a truck – an inferno that threatened to destroy their homes.
Arsonists torched two caravans. three cars and a flatbed truck in Awbridge Road, Bedhampton, just after midnight.
Flames roses to more than 20ft, engulfing a tree and putting homes a few metres away at risk, with scorching heat being felt through kitchen windows.
It was part of a two-hour arson spree across Bedhampton and Havant which pushed fire crews to the limits, with dozens of officers from Emsworth, Havant, Cosham, Southsea, Portchester and Waterlooville being mobilised.
Police have since arrested two boys, aged 16 and 17, in connection with the attacks, which firefighters described as the ‘worst arson spree in years’.
Jacquie Hurst’s home backs onto the car park where the vehicles were destroyed. The mum-of-three said she was frightened for her family’s safety.
The 42-year-old said: ‘I looked out the bedroom window and there were flames just shooting up.
‘I shouted to my daughter to call the firefighters. The fire just went, it was destroying everything.
‘I thought it could destroy the house. I was pretty scared. I just wanted to get the kids out of the house.
‘It was like nothing I have ever seen before. The heat was so intense you could feel it through the backdoor. The kitchen was roasting.’
Dozens of firefighters flocked to the street, with four engines from Havant and Cosham and a command vehicle from Portchester attending.
Officers battled for two hours to quell the inferno as it threatened to destroy a shed laden with petrol.
At one point they clambered into a garden backing onto the fire and used a neighbour’s ladder to help them beat back the flames.
Officers said a concrete wall, separating the car park from the gardens, prevented the fire from spreading to the homes – a wall neighbours say was fitted a decade ago after a similar blaze destroyed an old row of garages.
Rosie Stanbury, 23, was with her parents and three dogs in their home when the fire ignited.
The trainee paramedic, whose garden backed onto the site of the fire, said: ‘It was massive. It was just a shock. The heat coming off it was huge. You could feel it through the windows.’
One witness, who lived nearby, added: ‘It was like a bomb going off – I thought it was a terror attack.’
The carnage started at 11.45pm when a bin was torched in Highwood Lawn, Havant.
Within minutes fire services were inundated with calls of similar fires, with a bin shed ablaze in Gorley Court, a dog mess bin fire in St Michael’s Road at 12.37am, and a fire in woods at 12.50am off Willowdene Close.
Havant crew manager Glenn Kavanagh praised the firefighters’ efforts, adding: ‘This is one of the busiest nights dealing with a potential arson spree we’ve had in years.’
Speaking of the incident in Awbridge Road, he said: ‘It was lucky this wasn’t worse.’
Investigators from Hampshire Fire and Rescue’s arson task force were yesterday sifting through the wreckage for evidence.
A spokeswoman for Hampshire police added: ‘We have arrested a 16-year-old boy on suspicion of six counts of arson and a 17-year-old boy on suspicion of six counts of arson and assault of a police officer.’
Police are now appealing for witnesses to the incident, or those with any information, to call 101 quoting reference number 4180150282.