HALF of a Bolton businessman’s fleet of minibuses have been wiped out after two 15-seater vehicles worth £20,000 were destroyed in a double arson attack.

Mr Naeem Mallu is desperate to replace the minibuses as soon as possible to allow him to continue school run contract work for Bolton Council.

The Volkswagen vehicles, which were parked up together in Hawthorne Street, off Hawthorne Road, Deane, were targeted at the same time.

The intense heat generated by the blaze damaged guttering and also melted a phone line at a neighbouring house and cracked two windows of another property.

Fire crews from Bolton Central spent 50 minutes tackling the blaze at 10.40pm on Friday.

Self-employed Mr Mallu, of Hawthorne Road, said: “I was in my house when my brother, who lives locally, knocked at my door and told me what was happening. I went outside to see the mini-buses blazing.

“They had been parked together. There was nothing I could do as it would have been too dangerous.

“I’m totally shocked. I just can’t understand why anyone would want to do this.

“I have good communication with all the local people and I have no enemies.”

Mr Mallu, aged 39, who has run his own business, Ace Minibuses, for the past decade, said: “I would estimate that the vehicles were worth a total of £20,000. One was 12 years old and the other 10. I mainly work in school contracts for Bolton Council and I am hoping to replace these two vehicles as soon as possible.”

Fire crew commander Paul Brunt said: “Both the minibuses were destroyed by fire and there was damage to the guttering of an adjoining property.”

Mr Mohammed Arshad, aged 38, of Hawthorne Road, whose home suffered the exterior damage, said: “My phone isn’t working because the line was also damaged.”

Neighbour Mr Zaver Chauhan, aged 59, added: “The heat from the fire was so fierce that it cracked two windows of my house.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police has confirmed they were treating the cause of the blaze as deliberate.