POLICE say they now suspect that the succession of petrol bombings and wilful fires in Greenock are linked - and have today demanded an end to the madness before more lives are lost.

A senior officer says 'enquiries have led them to believe that the incidents are targeted at individuals' and he told of his 'disgust' at the appalling crimes.

It's also been revealed that a major incident room has been set up at Greenock police office.

The spate of incidents began last Monday when Greenock man George Miller, 46, burned to death as he tried to set fire to a flat in Union Street.

This was followed late on Wednesday with a blaze at a property on Wellington Street when accelerant was thrown through a window.

A 40-year-old woman was badly burned and had to be taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary for treatment while her nine-year-old daughter, who was also within the address at the time, escaped uninjured.

A small white car was seen in the area at the time and it's believed that this is the same vehicle driven into Skye Street shortly afterwards before being torched there at 2am.

Three men had been seen bolting from the car, a white Suzuki Splash, registration GK14 FZE, and and running to Rankin Street.

The car had been stolen from Denholm Terrace in the early hours of Wednesday.

Another attack took place at the weekend when accelerant was thrown at the window of a property of Cumberland Road in Larkfield at 1am on Saturday.

The occupants of the property - a 45-year-old woman and three members of the family, including her six-year-old daughter - were not injured after a neighbour raised the alarm.

Enquiries into all four incidents, in partnership with the Scottish Fire & Rescue service, are ongoing.

Detective Superintendent Gerry McBride said his officers were 'sickened by all of the incidents'.

He added: "Whether linked or not, these have been unprovoked, targeted attacks which have resulted in both serious injury and death.

“A couple of these attacks have also taken place while children have been present and it has been sheer luck that the number of people injured has not been any higher.

"Officers will do everything they can to find those responsible.

DS McBride says officers are keen to 'put these offenders behind bars where they deserve to be'.

He said: "My message is quite clear to the people that are involved - this stops now.

"Lives are at risk and this type of behaviour just will not be tolerated."

He also sought to reassure the wider community that police do not believe there is any risk to the general public.

He said: “There will be an increased police presence in the area whilst investigations are ongoing.

"Specialist units have been deployed to both carry out enquiries, and to tackle this problem and prevent any further instances occurring."

The detective issued a plea for anyone with information to come forward now.

He said: “We are particularly interested in finding out any information about the white Suzuki Splash, stolen from Denholm Terrace in the early hours of September 16 and set on fire in the early hours of Thursday September 17 in Skye Street, and the small white car seen driving away at speed from the attack on Wellington Street around 11pm on Wednesday."