ARSONISTS caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to vehicles at a car showroom.

The attackers smashed the windows of a Range Rover and two Minis outside GSL Autos in Manchester Road, Westhoughton , before setting fire to them and fleeing.

Firefighters were called to the garage just before 9.20pm on Friday.

All three cars were destroyed in the blaze, while two other cars next to them suffered minor heat damage.

A member of the public spotted the fire and called the emergency services to the scene.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “They smashed a window and put some kind of flammable substance or liquid inside. The owners and the police were called. They are checking CCTV.”

The cars were parked on the garage forecourt at the time and the fire did not spread to the building. The incident is currently being investigated by the police and fire service.

Firefighters from Atherton fire station spent an hour tackling the blaze.

Cllr David Wilkinson, from Westhoughton town council, said it was a worrying incident.

He said: “This is the first incident of this kind that we’ve had for some time, with deliberate vandalism of cars.

“It’s a busy road and I would hope that there would have been quite a lot of people about, even at that time.

“Hopefully they will be able to give something useful to the police.

“It’s lucky that it was only three cars that were damaged because it could easily have been worse.

“There are elderly residents living nearby.”

The owner of GSL Autos, which is a used car showroom, declined to comment.