AN alleged arson attack on a car is being treated by police as a racially motivated hate crime.

A young man was seen running off after the vehicle burst into flames in Dowsland Way, Taunton, late on Saturday night.

A witness tried unsuccessfully to stop the suspected culprit after spotting him by the car, which had a Polish number plate, as it erupted into a fireball.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: "We’re investigating a hate crime after a car was set alight at a property in Dowsland Way, in Taunton, at about 11.20pm on Saturday (September 22).

"It is believed the attack was racially motivated."

The witness, who does not wish to be named, reported seeing a young man in his early 20s running away on his own.

A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said the blaze was tackled by firefighters.

He added: "The car was well alight when firefighters arrived on the scene.

"The car was damaged by fire and we took action to prevent it spreading.

"It is believed to have been started deliberately."

If you have any information about the car fire, call police on 101 and quote reference 5218213219.

The incident happened in the same week the tyres of several vehicles were slashed by a knife in a night-time attack in a neighbouring street.

Residents in Mountfields Avenue woke on Tuesday morning to discover around 15 vehicles with punctured tyres.

Police last week launched an investigation into the incident, appealing for witnesses who may have seen anything suspicious in the area late on Monday night or in the early hours of Tuesday.

Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 quoting reference 5218209180 and ask to speak to the neighbourhood team.