POLICE officers are stepping up their hunt for an arsonist after another caravan was torched in Southampton.

Emergency services rushed to Byron Road in Thornhill shortly before 6.30am yesterday after reports of a caravan on fire.

This comes after another caravan was set alight in Thornhill on December 2, and police believe 13 caravans motorhomes and cars were targeted by arsonists in August this year.

Yesterday crews from Hightown and St Mary’s fire stations were called to battle the fire.

The caravan, which was parked in a driveway, sustained about 50% damage by the flames. The area was cordoned off while police officers and the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s investigative team carried out enquiries at the scene.

Gosia Jewell, 38, a receptionist who lives in Byron Road, said: “My husband woke me up and said the caravan was on fire, and I saw the flames on the side of the caravan. I was a little scared but the fire brigade arrived very quickly.”

The owner of the caravan declined to comment but neighbour Liza Phippard said: “We heard people beeping horns and we thought it was too early for that, and we realised it was a fire. We could smell smoke – we looked out of the window and the fire brigade were just turning up.”

The 45-year-old officer administrator added: “It was frightening. It could have spread to our house. It’s awful. It’s very scary that it keeps happening in Southampton and it seems to be in a specific areas of the city. This is a busy road in the morning, I don’t know what you can do to catch them if they are willing to take a chance at that time in the morning.”

The fire in Byron Road comes only few days after a caravan was set alight in Burns Road, Thornhill, on December 2.

Michael Phillips, 75 and his wife June, 86, were in bed when their caravan was set alight.

Michael said: “My wife went downstairs to take some medicine and then I heard her scream.She had seen something flicker on the CCTV screen and when she looked outside she saw the caravan was on fire. I managed to put most of it out using our hose as I was in the fire service for 42 years.”

The caravan was kept in the garden behind the property and was concealed by a fence.

Michael said: “They must have stood on the wall and set the cover alight. I was angry. I put this fencing up to protect the caravan.”

Hampshire police are investigating the two arsons and are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Officers are treating both incidents as arson and are reviewing previous arson reports which may be linked. Specifically the series in August where cars, caravans and motorhomes were burnt out, totalling 13 incidents between August 3 and August 24.

“Luckily no one was injured during either of these incidents, however, fires like this have the capacity to get quickly out of control and put lives in danger.

“Please call 101 if you know who might be responsible for these fires, before someone gets seriously hurt. Anyone with information on the fire on Burns Road should quote 44180450717. Anyone with information into the fire on Byron Road should quote 44180453582.”

As previously reported, the 13 arson attacks on caravans, motorhomes and cars which occurred in August caused thousands of pounds worth of damages. At that time, the incidents happened in Bitterne and Sholing, but other caravans and motorhomes across the city were targeted over the past few months.

Officers urged residents not to sleep in caravans or motorhome parked outside their houses or in their driveways.

Cllr Dave Shields, cabinet member for health and community safety at Southampton City Council, said he will be talking to the police and local councillors to do “everything that is possible” to reassure residents.

He said: “It seems that the number is quite large, it’s not a coincidence. We need to catch whoever is responsible for it.”