A CAR exploded in a quiet residential area near a Stratton pub after vandals set it on fire in an early hours arson attack.

Dramatic CCTV footage caught the scene on camera as the car was driven up to the entrance of the housing estate behind the Rat Trap’s back car park hours before sunrise.

The driver and two passengers set the vehicle alight by putting a lighted rag in the petrol tank, according to Rat Trap landlord Marc Richardson who watched back hours of the footage after being alerted to the incident.

The trio walked away from the burning vehicle as the back wheels and seats slowly became engulfed in flames and smoke.

The dangerous mixture of fire and petrol caused an explosion which lit up the dark street.

Firefighters from the nearby Stratton station quickly ran over and parked a fire engine in place to put out the blaze.

One firefighter hosed down the vehicle for several minutes while another checked on nearby houses.

Once the fire had been completely put out after half an hour of work, the crew inspected the smouldering remains of the vehicle to figure out the cause of the blaze and assess the damage.

A police car parked up once the area was made safe.

Mr Richardson said: “This is the lowest of the low, a selfish act of arson, and I think it was a stolen car too.

“There was broken glass and debris strewn across a housing estate where young children play, it’s disgusting.

“Police came round to speak to me later that day to get a statement and a copy of the CCTV, so hopefully they catch whoever did it.

“The council quickly cleaned up most of the fragments but the blast blew some bits quite far so I’m still finding little shards in the grass.

“I often see police and fire engines racing past the pub with their blue lights on but I’ve not seen any arson around here before, it’s one of the worst things that’s happened.”

A spokesman for the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were called to St Quentin Close, Swindon at 4.05am on May 19 for a car well alight.

“One crew from Stratton attended and used one hose reel jet to extinguish, with the stop coming at 4.26am. Police were called as we believed the fire to have been started deliberately.”

Wiltshire Police confirmed that a man has since been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.