A FIRE spread to a garage in the early hours after a wheelie bin was left alight outside a family home.

Fire crews were called to Shurmer Street in Bolton at 2.45am. A resident heard a loud bang, believed to be a small explosion, and discovered a fire in a wheelie bin in the street.

The bin was ablaze right in front of a neighbour’s house and spreading fast to the garage.

The resident alerted the occupier to the growing fire and the pair rushed outside to fight it off with a garden hose while fire fighters were called to the scene.

The bin had been left out after collection day, but had been moved down the street outside another property’s garage and set alight.

The 50-year-old occupier, who lives with his wife and son, said: “Someone half way down the street left their wheelie bin out, maybe accidentally. Early this morning, someone dragged the wheelie bin and tried to set it alight.

“Luckily we were woken up by a neighbour, we were lucky that we had a hosepipe right there. The fire went out quite quickly.”

He said that the outcome could have been much worse had he and his family been hurt in the blaze, saying: “People do stupid things and that’s never going to stop.

“I don’t think people realise that doing little, silly pranks like this could have catastrophic consequences for people.

“I had a really thick plastic drum full of oil next to the garage because I service my own cars and it must have exploded, which is why my neighbour and son heard a bang.

“But because it was engine oil it didn’t catch fire. The bang was enough to wake them up though.”

The occupier says that he now needs to fix the damage caused, as well as make his home safer.

He said: “The heat from the fire must have made some of the stuff in the garage catch fire.

“All the guttering has been damaged, so I’m going to have to pay to get that fixed in the next few days. I’m going to get cameras set up too.”

The fire has come as a shock to the family at the house, with the victim saying: “I’ve lived here for about 40 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “The neighbour heard a loud bang and went out to investigate.

“They saw a wheelie bin, which apparently was not there earlier that evening, up against the garage.

“[The bin] was not the resident’s wheelie bin, so it had been wheeled there purposely and it was set alight.”

The spokesman added: “The neighbour alerted the occupier of the house and they were able to use a hose pipe while we were on our way.

“It spread from the wheelie bin to the garage and there was some household items in the garage.”

The two fire engines from Bolton Central fire station were at the scene for just under an hour.

The spokesman for GMFRS warned: “Only bring wheelie bins out when it’s collection day. Otherwise leave them in a closed off space.”

Police are investigating the incident.