A SOUTHAMPTON resident claims poor maintenance by the city council allowed a "fire-bomber" to enter a block of flats.

Families were forced to flee their flats in Purbrook Close after Monday night's incident which is being treated as arson by police.

One resident has reported that the attackers were able to enter the council-owned building due to a broken security door.

He claims to have reported the issue to the council months ago but the authority did nothing to fix the door.

The resident, who did not wish to be named, said his children alerted him to the fire when they heard smashing glass and shouting outside.

When he opened the door of his flat he could see thick white smoke but despite claims no fire alarm went off to alert them to the danger.

He added: “If I had been asleep it could have been a lot worse. We nearly lost everything. I went out to bang on the other flat doors and get everyone out. I had to help. I could not forgive myself if someone was left inside.

"Someone firebombed the building – it stank of methanol or petrol.

"A firebomb is not a prank; it is trying to kill someone.

"I have four kids and my neighbours have a newborn baby. My little boy was outside crying. My children will be scarred for life.”

Hampshire police confirmed that officers were called at 11pm on Monday to reports of a fire at the block of flats.

Southampton West Neighbourhood Inspector Paul Southam said: “This incident caused a lot of disruption and concern to the residents of Purbrook Close last night.

"Many families had to leave their homes late at night while we dealt with the incident.

“We’re lucky no one was seriously hurt. I would like to urge anyone who witnessed this incident or knows who is responsible to get in contact with us.”

The ground floor of the building is now being guarded by the police.

Anyone with information can contact police on 101, quoting reference number 44190130576.

The Daily Echo has contacted Southampton City Council about the mattter and is awaiting comment.