A HAMMER-wielding gang were spotted loitering around a lock-up hours before it was torched, trapping a man inside.
The victim, aged in his 30s, remains in a serious condition in hospital after the garage in Moredun Park Road turned into a fireball in the early hours of Sunday.
Shocked neighbours told how they rushed to try and help the screaming man only to be beaten back by flames as he was dramatically pulled free by firefighters.
“My girlfriend said she saw a group hanging around earlier on Saturday afternoon,” said a resident
“They were just walking around with hammers outside the garage,” added the hotel night porter.
Mr Thomson was woken shortly before 3am on Sunday to a “massive bang” outside his bedroom window.
“I came to the door to see what had happened and I could see the building was in flames.
“You could hear the man screaming inside so I ran down with a neighbour to see if we could help.”
The two would-be heroes were unable to get inside the garage but spotted a masked man on a wall bordering the adjacent Craigour Park Primary School. “There was a guy standing on the wall with a mask over his face. As soon as he saw us he ran away,” said Mr Thomson.
“We tried to help but then the fire engines turned up about two minutes after and they told us to leave it. I was in shock.”
Police are investigating a link to biker gangs after 20 men were seen trying to break into the garage at 1.30pm on Saturday. Officers were guarding the charred remains of the garage yesterday while the playground of Craigour Primary was fenced off. A 33-year-old man has been arrested and inquiries are continuing.