A St Neots town councillor has described how he was woken up by a huge bang after someone started a fire in a wheelie bin outside his house, in King’s Road, in the early hours of yesterday (Tuesday) morning.

Police have launched an investigation as there has been a spate of similar incidents in the St Neots and Eynesbury area in the last three months.

Councillor John Dunford, who represents the Priory Park ward, was woken at 1am by a loud noise which he thought may have been a car crash, but when he looked out of his bedroom window he saw the blaze.

"I saw the neighbour's car was in flames and called the fire brigade who arrived within 10 minutes," he said.

"The car was between two semi-detached houses which was no more than three feet from the homes, and there were children sleeping in the houses and the fire was very close to the gas meters."

On closer inspection, Cllr Dunsford noticed the fire seemed to have been started in a wheelie bin which had been pushed next to the car.

"Apparently similar incidents have been happening across the town and the big bang I heard was the tyre blowing. This is scary stuff. I think people should be careful where they store their wheelie bins and I have pulled mine behind a fence now so that it can't been seen from the road."

Cambridgeshire police have confirmed that during the last three months, they have attended six incidents involving people setting fires to the contents of wheelie and industrial bins in the St Neots and Eynesbury areas.

A spokesman said: "We were called at 1am on Tuesday by the fire service to reports of a fire that was believed to have been started deliberately in Kings Road, St Neots. The fire, which started in wheelie bins, had spread to a neighbouring vehicle, causing extensive damage. We are currently investigating and working with Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service and would ask the public if they have any information regarding these crimes to contact us.

We understand in many cases it is difficult, but if possible we are suggesting residential wheelie bins are moved into rear gardens or sheds where they're not accessible to the public."

In a separate incident, a family from Little Paxton had a lucky escape after a fire at their home at 9am on Monday.

Firefighters from St Neots were called to a property in Grove Court, following reports of a kitchen fire.