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‘War zone’ as cars go up in Hove petrol fire
It was described by one shocked onlooker as looking like a war zone.
But this was actually the scene outside a Hove primary school yesterday morning (December 6).
Seven cars, two communal wheelie bins and a bicycle were wrecked in a mammoth blaze.
One of the cars, a Mercedes, is believed to have caught alight and leaked fuel, which had then set on fire – with subsequent cars going up in turn.
As temperatures dropped to minus five degrees centigrade, one corner of the city was quite literally blazing hot.
At 8am, half the street was cordoned off with police and tape as the smell of smoke lingered and police and fire officers examined the scene.
West Hove Infant School escaped unscathed, but all the vehicles parked alongside the building in Connaught Road unfortunately did not.
Patrick Walkington, 48, pictured above, who lives in Connaught Road, said he woke up in the early hours to hear massive banging noises.
He looked out the window and saw his car on fire – as well as six others.
Flames also licked at the edge of his nearby bicycle.
The business owner said: “I was fast asleep, then suddenly I heard a banging noise so I went to investigate.
“I thought someone had chucked something in the communal bin.
“But then I saw what actually had happened.
“It looks like the first car has gone up and then petrol has spilled down the street and all the other cars have gone up in turn.”
The first car was completely gutted and was left as a shell, while the heat of the fire had burnt the front of the car which was parked opposite it.
A letter had been placed across its windscreen wipers which confirmed that it had been “involved in an incident in the early hours.” .
Michael Kusmierek, 27, pictured above, also of Connaught Road, whose car was also gutted, told how he had only bought it in January.
“I need it to take my sister to work,” he said.
“It is not a very expensive car but I used it a lot. It could have been worse though, people could have been hurt.”
Val Brown, 70, said: “I woke up and I heard a boom.
“I looked out through my window and there was a mass of fire in the sky.
“Luckily, my car was parked on the other side of the road.
“At about 2.45am, I heard voices in the street. I thought it was just drunk people, |so tried to ignore it.
“I then heard popping noises and when I looked out the window, a car was alight.”
Witness Lui Hepworth added: “The fire spread to the communal bins next to a car as burning petrol ran down the gutter it set the tyres of four more cars alight. This happened within a couple of minutes.
"The firefighters got the fire under control quickly, but it took them a while to put it out completely.
“Now the street looks more like a war zone.”
Hove firefighters confirmed they attended and were investigating the cause of the fire.
A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: “Emergency services were called to a report of a bin fire initially at 2.50am but found a Mercedes ML car burnt out.
“Fuel had leaked from this vehicle, ignited and set a further six vehicles on fire.
“No one was hurt. Fire investigators are still trying to establish the cause.
“The vehicles damaged by fire included two Mercedes, an Audi A3, Honda Civic, BMW, VW Polo and a VW Scirocco.”
Call Sussex Police on 101 with any information.
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