AN ARSON attack in Chard could have spread to nearby flats putting residents lives in danger if it wasn’t for a sprinkler system.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said a car was deliberately set on fire in Fore Street the early hours of January 5, before it was rolled into another car under a car port area, causing fire and smoke to affect nearby residential flats.

Fire Investigator Paul Mitchell said: “The fire was already starting to spread to the second vehicle when the crews arrived, and they worked hard to extinguish the fire quickly.

“Fortunately, there was a sprinkler system in the car port that had activated, this undoubtedly suppressed the spread of the fire to the flats until the arrival of the fire crews.

“This incident really shows the value of sprinklers and how effective they can be in stopping the spread of fires.”

A spokesman for the fire service added: “Sprinklers play a positive role in protecting life, reducing the economic and environmental cost of fire in any building they are installed in.

“Only sprinklers within close proximity to the fire will be activated, meaning water will only be released in the places directly affected by the fire.”

Sprinklers can: • Reduce fire deaths and fire related injuries • Reduce the risk to operational crews • Protect property and heritage • Reduce the effects of arson • Reduce the environmental impact of fire • Reduce the cost and disruption to the community and business.

After the arson attack, the owner of a car destroyed in the suspected arson attack spoke of his ordeal.

Two cars and nearby buildings were involved in the fire that was started in Phoenix courtyard off Fore Street in Chard.

The man, who owned a red Citron C4 which was ruined in the fire, said: “Someone could have got trapped.

"I think the other car rolled about 10 metres into the car ports underneath the flat, that's where my car was parked.

"I got woken up by a knock on the door at 4.45am.

"It's not what you want to wake up to. You don't want anyone getting hurt.

"The fire service said the fire was deliberate, so I feel a bit like collateral damage.

"If you've got a problem, you don't damage people's cars. That's the coward’s way out."

Avon and Somerset Police has confirmed it is investigating the incident.

A spokesman said: "We were called at around 2am to Phoenix Court in Chard by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue.

"Two cars were involved in the fire.

"We are investigating the fire that was started deliberately.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 101 quoting reference number 5218 002992.