STUNNED residents have spoken of their shock after arsonists set fire to a car just yards from their homes.

The vehicle – reported to be a Peugeot – was torched in the early hours of Saturday morning in a South Woodham Ferrers car park.

Homeowners surrounding the car park in The Withywindle were “scared” left when the saw blazing vehicle.

Mum-of-two Dory Grimshaw, 30, dialled 999 the moment she saw the car in flames.

She said: “I was in bed watching TV. Then at about 2.30 in the morning I heard a massive bang which sounded like a gunshot.

“It definitely scared me a bit.

“I looked out of my bedroom window and saw the car in flames.

“I called the fire service straight away.

“I didn’t see anyone around, but through the night I heard people behind my property and a dog was barking.

“It sounded like it was in my back garden.

“It was horrible.

“I’ve got children and my flat smelled of burnt rubber and smoke all day.”

An Essex County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman, said: “Firefighters were called to reports of a car fire in The Withywindle, South Woodham Ferrers, at 2.36am on Saturday, February 2.

“On arrival, crews advised that one car was alight.

“The fire was extinguished by 3.08am.

“We believe this fire was caused deliberately.”

Malcolm Sismey, councillor for South Woodham was “disappointed” when he heard about the incident.

He said: “I’m shocked as I was not aware of any incidents happening in recent times.

“Things like this are not very regular in South Woodham.

“There have certainly been no incidents such as this reported to me in recent times and it is not that far from me at all.

“It is dreadful and any incidents that lead to scaring people and causing damage to their properties is awful.

“One would expect that any residents who see anything suspicious or an incident such as this would immediately contact the police or fire service.

“It is disappointing that something like this has happened in our area.”