A MECHANIC has described the “nightmare” of seeing his garage be destroyed after it was set on fire by arsonists.

Charlie Potter was woken at 3.30am on Wednesday (October 10) to be told that his Graveley-based business Milestone Motor Company, which has taken 14 years to build up, was going up in smoke.

"The scene was horrifying," he said. "There was smoke coming out of the top of the building and the fire fighters did not want to go inside because of the cylinders in there.

"It was a pure nightmare. Every time we have moved premises we have slowly built up the business. To see the whole lot on fire is soul destroying."

About 15 cars, half of which belonged to customers, were destroyed in the blaze at the car maintenance workshop in Toseland Road.

Firefighters put a 200m cordon in place around the building and evacuated four homes inside the cordon because there were several oxy acetylene cylinders inside the garage.

The cylinders were eventually cooled and lifted to safety but it took crews from St Neots, Papworth, Huntingdon, Gamlingay, St Ives and Ramsey approximately six hours to extinguish the blaze.

The garage, which has been at its current premises for about five years, lost most of its equipment, although the shell of the building still remains.

"I can't see why anyone would want to do anything like that," Mr Potter, who is director of the business, said.

He added that he had been "overwhelmed" with the number of people and other garages ringing to offer him help and support, with some even offering to loan him equipment to help the garage get back on its feet.

Mr Potter hopes to find somewhere to work on a temporary basis in the next week or so.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue confirmed that the "most likely cause of the fire was deliberate".

Incident commander Gary Mitchley said: "Crews did a fantastic job in keeping the cylinders cool and extinguishing the fire."