POLICE are hunting a serial arsonist after a spate of blazes in a Southampton community.

Business owners told of their fears that further attacks could put people's lives at risk.

They spoke out after industrial bins outside two companies were targeted within an hour.

Although no-one was hurt, traders warn it could have been a lot more serious if these blazes had not been spotted in time.

Firefighters were called to Fort Road at its junction with Portsmouth Road to a digger ablaze yesterday at around 5.40am.

Less than half an hour later they tackled a bin blaze outside the CCL Cleaning Group Ltd office half a mile further down the road.

But they were on the same street in Woolston less than two weeks before, on August 21.

Police launched an arson investigation after a spate of early morning bin fires along the road that Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service believed were started deliberately.

One outside The Flooring Company spread to the building causing thousands of pounds of external damage.

But company director Steve Batten said without quick intervention by firefighters, who spotted it on their way to another nearby blaze, the flames could have wiped out the two firms and spread to the flats next door, which were left with cracked windows.

“They don't care about people's livelihoods,” he said. “We need the bin there but how do we know what's going to happen in the future? We don't know if they're going to try and get that one too. Next time I fear it could be much worse. They're putting people's lives at risk. Someone could have been killed.”

Daily Echo:

The burnt-out digger

Dean Cummins, director of CCL Cleaning Group, said: “It's very dangerous. Because it's only a bit of damage and it's all insured nobody seems to care. When will they act on it? How bad has it got to be?”

Both businessmen called for police to do more after they were told the investigation had been closed on the first fire.

Resident Katy Reilly, 33, of Portsmouth Road, in the flats nearby affected by the fire echoed their concerns. “We always felt really safe here - it's just a bit unnerving,” she said.

A Hampshire Police spokesman confirmed police were investigating and said although the initial investigation had been closed, in light of the recent incidents it would be looked at again.

Any witnesses or anyone with information can call police on 101.