A REWARD is being offered in the hunt for arsonists who started a £70,000 blaze just yards from a Hampshire petrol station.

Simon Reeves, owner of the Vansco vehicle sales and repair facility in Romsey Road, Cadnam, said the fire could have had “catastrophic” consequences.

Now the 44-year-old businessman is offering £10,000 for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.

New Forest Post:

Police have confirmed the blaze was started deliberately and are trawling through CCTV footage in a bid to track down those responsible.

Mr Reeves said the fire destroyed seven vehicles waiting to be repaired repair and also spread to a neighbouring workshop, causing £60,000-£70,000 of damage.

No-one was hurt in the incident, which resulted in part of Romsey Road being closed for several hours.

As reported in the Daily Echo, seven fire crews from across Hampshire dashed to the scene after the blaze broke out last Sunday.

New Forest Post:

Vansco is surrounded by homes and other businesses, including a Texaco garage.

Mr Reeves said: “The fire was near houses and stables and directly across the road from a petrol station - it could have been a catastrophe.

“Starting the fire was dangerous as well as stupid. I couldn’t believe anyone would be so irresponsible.

“The fire had quite a dramatic effect on the business for a day or two but we’ve got the electrics back on and are trying to make the best of things.

“It was quite a big ordeal for the neighbours as well.”

Last night it emerged that mechanic Nigel White, 42, and one of his colleagues helped prevent an even bigger blaze by moving three of the vehicles in the yard and thus creating a fire break.

Mr White said he was in nearby Ower when he heard about the blaze.

He added: “When I got there two of the cars were on fire and the flames were spreading to a third. If we hadn’t done what we did we would have lost 20-30 vehicles.”

New Forest Post:

A Hampshire police spokesman confirmed the incident was being treated as arson and said officers were keen to hear from any residents with CCTV images and drivers with dashcam footage.

Derek Tippetts, 71, who lives nearby, said: “I thought at first someone was having a bonfire.

“I came out and saw a big black cloud of smoke and noticed a rubbery smell. The fire could have been very dangerous as the cars could have had fuel in them.”

Anyone with information can call Hampshire police on 101, quoting crime reference number 44190163561.