POLICE are hunting an arsonist who torched cars and set rubbish alight during a fire spree in Torquay.
Detectives have already set up a special squad to investigate arson attacks which have been centred on the St Marychurch, Ellacombe and Teignmouth Road areas in the past.
They say there is nothing to link the latest incidents — although they were in the same area.
View Torquay car fires 2012 in a larger mapMap showing some of this year's arson attacks in Torquay
Two families living in Teignmouth Road were woken in the middle of the night to the sound of banging and popping as their cars went up in flames. They watched helplessly as the two cars were destroyed.
The suspect is also believed to have started two other fires on Teignmouth Road.
One car was damaged along with two wheeled bins, some clothes and a child's bike.
Teignmouth Road resident Stacey Browne was woken at 3.30am to be told her Renault Scenic was in flames.
She said: "I just kept thinking thank goodness nobody was hurt. I told myself that it was just a car, otherwise I would have started crying.
"We've only lived here for two weeks and are still moving in really. It's terrible it has happened just before Christmas.
"At one point the brakes must have burned through and the car just rolled into the one in front and they started moving slowly forward."
The car parked immediately in front of hers was a £2,000 MG convertible sports car, owned by neighbour Debbie Hall.
She said: "The car meant a great deal to me. My daughter woke me up saying it sounded like a gun was going off and there were flashing lights outside. I looked out of the bedroom window and saw the car in flames."
Partner Malcolm Robillard said: "I've lived here all my life and I've never seen anything like it here."
The fire happened on Friday, December 21.
Fire crews were also called to an incident outside the Tesco Express garage in Teignmouth Road where a blue Daihatsu was slightly damaged as was a garden gate.
Earlier, at about 2am, a fire crew was sent to deal with reports of two wheeled bins on fire near Snowberry Close, on the old Teignmouth Road. The bins were pushed against a car which was slightly damaged as was a child's push bike.
In the last 12 months Torquay has been hit by a series of arson attacks on cars. Det Sgt Chris Tapley said police will investigate all leads.
He said: "Damage in the first two incidents was very minor, but we believe an accelerant was placed under the two vehicles. We will be checking CCTV and working closely with the fire investigation team to find those responsible."
Police have released a description of a man they would like to find and have appealed to the public for help.
He is described as aged between 25 and 30, about 5ft 10in tall, of average build and clean shaven. He was probably wearing a hoodie and dark trousers. Over his top was a 'shiny style' combat jacket with camouflage pattern. Anyone who saw anybody acting suspiciously or has information should call 101 and ask for DC Ben Shardlow. Or they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.