A milkman has been praised after he raised the alarm when a car burst into flames and the fire spread to a neighbouring house.

Residents in Mountain Ash Road, Dorchester, told of their shock following the early hours fire drama yesterday, and said a milkman on his rounds beeped his horn and knocked on doors to alert people.

One fire crew was initially called at around 2am – however as soon as officers arrived they called for backup, and two further fire engines attended the scene.

Teams worked through the early hours to extinguish the flames, before ventilating the affected property and leaving the site at around 3.30am.

A spokesman for the fire service said the car was "too badly damaged" to determine the cause, but that it was believed to have started accidentally in the engine bay.

Resident Jay Rangdale said he believes an 'electrical fluke' caused his car to spontaneously burst into flames on the driveway at the side of his property.

"The first I knew of it was when I was woken by firemen knocking on the door and saw the flames," he said.

"They did a fantastic job. One of the firemen said "it doesn't want to go out, does it?"

"I've been on the phone to the insurance company all morning – the lengths I'll go to for a day off," he joked.

"I think I might still be in shock – I've not had much sleep".

His next-door neighbour, who would only give his name as Mr Potts, was philosophical about the damage caused to his house, which was affected by flames when the blaze spread from Mr Rangdale's drive to the side of his property.

"It's all part of life's tapestry," he mused.

"Thankfully, the milkman was sounding his horn to wake people up, and the house opposite called 999 – people don't usually make much noise in this part of Dorchester.

"Initially I thought a bucket of water might put it out, so I went into the kitchen and that's when I saw black smoke pouring through the cooker hood.

"There's smoke damage inside the house and it smells horrible in here."

Opposite, a man who gave his name as Richard praised the milkman and fire brigade for raising the alarm and tackling the blaze.

"I could hear crackling like dry wood on a bonfire - I looked out and saw the whole fence engulfed by massive flames - it was very shocking, almost like a dream.

"My partner called 999 just as the milkman started knocking our door - he got the ball rolling - the fire brigade arrived within ten minutes.

"We heard a sound like an explosion, which might've been the windscreen going through.

"The biggest worry was whether the fuel tank would explode - things would have been a lot worse.

"It's a real blessing that someone in the street still gets their milk delivered in the old-fashioned way."