Three people are in hospital after they were trapped in an horrific car fire on a country lane in Hampshire, a fire which the police now suspect may have been started deliberately.

The fire is now being treated as an attempted murder investigation

The fire is now being treated as an attempted murder investigation

The Ford Fiesta caught on fire in Merdon Castle Lane, Hursley, near Winchester, Hampshire at approximately 8pm on Monday night. Witnesses describe seeing the 37 year-old mother’s frantic gesturing towards the car where her children were trapped, before brave passing motorists dragged the children from the inferno. The three victims, who all live in Southampton, are currently in hospital; the mother and her daughter are in a serious condition and the a little five year-old boy is fighting for his life.

Detective Inspector Simon Baker confirmed that the investigation was now an attempted murder enquiry; he said: “This is an extremely distressing incident for everyone involved. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have been seriously injured and specially trained officers are continuing to support them at this difficult time.

“This is now being treated as an attempted murder investigation. Our priority is to establish how this fire started. We are keeping an open mind and considering all the options at this stage including whether the fire was started deliberately.

“We also have to take into consideration that the people involved are all being treated in hospital and we have to balance our investigation with their medical needs, so establishing the full circumstances of what has happened may take some time. Our enquiries so far indicate that this was not a random incident and we are satisfied that we have identified all of those involved in the investigation.”

64 year-old Alan Beusmans and his son William were first on the scene of the exploding car on Monday night. Mr Beusmans, who has three grandchildren, said: “It was well alight and there were two people in the road, a woman and a young girl. We thought we’d run to assist the lady, who had flames coming up around her legs. She was pointing towards the car and that’s when I saw the other kid.

“I went over to the car and managed to get the door open – the boy was pressed up against the window. I burnt my hand opening it and the boy fell out of the car, I got him over to the other side. They were very distressed and I was shocked at what I saw but I managed to get myself together. You never expect anything like this to happen.”