POLICE are hunting raiders who went on the rampage in a flat before setting fire to it.

They broke into the property and ransacked the place, throwing paint throughout the interior before setting it alight.

The alarm was raised at about 11pm on Thursday by a neighbour of the first floor flat in Dingle Walk, off Princess Road, Bolton, after smoke filtered into her property It is thought the yobs got into the property by kicking through the front door.

A couch was destroyed in the fire and all the carpets and plaster were ruined.

There was no one in the flat at the time and neighbours said the occupants, a couple, were away on holiday although police believe the flat is unoccupied. Firefighters spent two hours tackling the blaze.

Watch manager Andy Hardman, based at Bolton central fire station, said: “They had thrown paint around and set fire to the couch, which had burnt to the ground.

“The whole room was destroyed by the fire — all the furniture and carpets and the plaster on the ceiling.

The rest of the flat was heavily smoke-logged.”

Another neighbour, Allan Naylor, aged 58, of Dingle Walk, said: “I was woken up by a lot of noise but that’s not unusual around here.

“Next thing I knew, all of the fire brigade were here putting a fire out. I think the property has been broken into a few times already.

“If it is deliberate, it’s worrying because they might have got the wrong address.”

Mohan Patel, aged 68, of Dingle Way, said: “All I heard was all of the sirens and when I came out I all saw the smoke coming from the window. It’s very shocking if they did break in and did it on purpose.”

Police are investigating the incident.

Det Insp Chris Walker said: “It is an unoccupied flat and we are trying to trace the last person living there.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101.