A MOTHER today told how her family had a lucky escape after an "explosive blaze" broke out yards from their home.

Mary Mitchell, 37, and daughters Erin, 10, and Rhiannon, 9, were evacuated from their house after a vehicle repair firm caught fire and propane cylinders began exploding because of the heat.

The flames tore through the yard at Ferrymill Motors, in Torrance, Dunbartonshire, about 8.10pm last night, destroying eight buses and six caravans.

Around 30 firefighters tackled the blaze in Campsie Road.

At the height of the fire, more than 20 people had to be evacuated from their homes.

Ms Mitchell, a classroom assistant, recalled the "terrifying" experience of being confronted by explosions, smoke and huge flames, when she stepped into her back garden.

She said: "My main fear was the whole place would explode. Every minute we would hear another loud bang and another canister would explode.

"The yard is at the back of my house and the heat was unbearable, but the noise was the worst thing.

"It was just so close to the house. I am still shaking just thinking about it.

"I was scared and so were the children. Erin was screaming, she was terrified.

"We are so lucky the fire was spotted so quickly and brought under control.

"If the wind was blowing in the other direction, towards the house, it could have been so different."

Erin and Rhiannon, who are pupils at Torrance Primary, had to stay at their grandparents' house while firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze.

Erin said: "There were lots of flames and sparks, it was really scary.

"I couldn't get to sleep until one o'clock because I was scared the fire could start again."

Rhiannon said: "Most of all, I was worried about our guinea pigs because they were out in the garden, so close to the fire."

Ms Mitchell's father, John Hair, 63, said: "I will be going to speak to someone at the council today because something needs to be done to stop this happening again.

"There should be a space between the yard and my daughter's garden. The vehicles should not be so close.

"We are fortunate the wind was blowing in the opposite direction of the house. I dread to think what could happened, it could have been a disaster."

Firefighters were still at the scene today as the fire continued to smoulder. Some vehicles in the firm's yard were reduced to burnt-out shells.

A man at the Ferrymill Motors site today said the company did not want to comment at this stage. The company was reported to specialise in spray-painting.

Group Commander Edward Mullen, of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, said: "The initial crews attending were faced with a fire that was threatening to involve a large number of other vehicles in the depot.

"Propane cylinders were exploding and 20 people who live nearby were evacuated until the incident was made safe.

"Firefighters extinguished the fire and prevented further vehicles becoming involved."

rebecca.gray@ heraldandtimes.co.uk