A Bexley charity for vulnerable pensioners is still reeling after learning one of its vehicles was set alight in Dartford last night.

News Shopper reported how onlookers seemed unperturbed as they watched a van engulfed in flames before a loud bang could be heard just before 10:30pm in Dartford Road last night.

Since then, the head of the Bexley Accessible Transport Scheme (BATS) has told this newspaper she was "devastated" to discover that the destroyed vehicle was one of their specialist vans, which police believe was a target in a suspected arson attack.

"I heard this morning that it was one of our charity vehicles and we've had to arrange for another vehicle to run that route today.

"There were meant to be a group of vulnerable elderly people going to a day centre on that bus this morning.

"It's just terrible, we were so shocked this morning," said Lorraine Evans, CEO of BATS.

Despite watching one of their vehicles, a Mercedes Treka which is estimated to cost between £70,000 and £80,000 due to the specialist equipment on board, Ms Evans said she relieved to hear that nobody was injured during the ordeal.

After being contacted by the police, the group were stunned to learn that the incident is being treated as suspicious.

"We've just had the driver in here this morning, they’re still a little shocked.

"Everyone in the office is just a bit sombre at the moment," said Ms Evans.

When contacted for an update on the case, a Kent Police spokesman said: "Kent Police was called at 10.37pm on Wednesday, July 17, to assist Kent Fire and Rescue Service with a vehicle fire in Dartford Road, Dartford.

"Officers assisted fire crews by managing traffic in the area.

"The cause of the fire is believed to be suspicious and initial enquiries are underway."

A KFRS spokesperson has said: "KFRS was called to Dartford Road in Dartford at 10.15pm yesterday, to reports of a minibus alight.

"Two fire engines attended and crews used three hose reel jets to extinguish the fire. There were no reported injuries and the cause is being treated as suspicious."

Anyone with information is asked to call Kent Police on 01474 366149 quoting 46/137678/19.

Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or using the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.