DOZENS of people were evacuated in the early hours after a teen was said to have told police he had stashed a homemade bomb in his care home room.

Families were put up in nearby Asda at the Orbital shopping centre as a British Army bomb squad was scrambled to Spode Close in Redhouse.

A 19-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life and communicating false information.

999 crews were called shortly after midnight on Tuesday to reports of a fire at Spode Close residential home, a care facility for adults with learning difficulties.

Firefighters from Drove Road and Stratton fire stations were first at the scene. The Adver understands the emergency services were told at the scene there was an improvised explosive device in the flats.

That prompted the bomb squad to be called out. Those living in the streets around Spode Close were told to wait at Asda. A cordon was in place until 2.40am.

One man, 37, who asked not to be named, said the atmosphere at Asda had been jovial but tense. He questioned the police evacuation plan and why homes were cleared while Thamesdown Drive remained open to traffic.

"I think the police need to rethink their evacuation plans. They should have had an incident manager on site who had topographical information of the entire area,” he said.

Supt Adrian Burt, Wiltshire Police’s commander for Swindon, said: “I know that the incident would have been concerning for all those involved, particularly those people who were woken by the emergency services and asked to leave their homes in the middle of the night.

“I’m sure everyone appreciates that we were acting with the public’s safety at the forefront of our minds and, although our actions were precautionary, we had to make sure nobody was put in harm’s way.

“I would like to commend all the police officers and staff who attended the incident, as well as thank our colleagues from the other emergency services and the military for their support."

A spokesman for Priory Group, which owns the residential home where the fire started, said: “We are extremely sorry for the disruption caused. We can confirm that everyone on site was safely evacuated and would like to thank the police and fire service who supported residents both at the home and in the immediate vicinity."