Police and fire crews are currently investigating how the fire, involving four cars, two caravans and a number of gas cylinders, started.

A FIRE investigation is underway after an extensive fire involving several gas cylinders in Chawleigh on Thursday night.

Police confirmed the fire, which involved four vehicles and two caravans, was being treated as suspicious.

Four fire engines spent hours battling the blaze at a field on the B3042 road after being called 11.50pm to reports of a vehicle fire.

Mark Sanders, the senior fire officer at the scene, said the blaze had been difficult to battle due to the dangerous gas cylinders and undulating nature of the land.

But he said crews had done an excellent job in stopping the fire from spreading to the rest of the site, protecting 'banks' of gas cylinders from becoming involved.

"We originally were called to reports of a car fire, but we quickly realised it was spreading around the property to other vehicles and caravans.

"Overall it covered about half an acre.

"It also became quickly apparent a number of gas cylinders were involved; they were banging and exploding around us which made it very difficult.

"I left the scene at 5.30am and a crew stayed there overnight to ensure nothing flared up again.

"A crew from Chulmleigh went back to the scene at 9.30am this morning with police to search the scene and try and establish the cause."

Mr Sanders said although the damage to the vehicles was severe, it could have been a lot worse.

"The crews actually did a really great job and stopped the fire half way into the site.

"There were plenty of other caravans, farm buildings, hay, straw and banks and banks of gas cylinders."

Neil Blackburn, watch commander for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, said the fire was being treated as suspicious.

"We can't rule out arson, and we are investigating to establish what caused this fire," he said.