Several fires damage homes and fields
MORE than 60 firefighters are battling a range of fires involving several fields and a housing estate this evening.
MORE than 60 firefighters have battled a range of fires which have left three families homeless and two people in hospital.
The fires were spread over two square miles and involved two fields and a housing estate. Firefighters were hampered in their efforts due to seaside gales.
The incident took place in Great Wakering, near Southend-on-Sea in Essex.
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At one point firefighters formed a human barrier to pour water onto flames as they threatened to spill out from a field into neighbouring homes.
About 12 fire engines from across Essex were called to the incident, which started at about 4.46pm.
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Incident commander Neil Fenwick said: “I haven't attended an incident such as this in many years. Firefighters put up a valiant effort but the high winds and the fact that the flames covered some two square miles of fields and hedge land made the fire uncontrollable at times.
“The rapid spread of the fire meant that families began fleeing their homes before some of our appliances arrived at the scene, but the whole of the estate had to be evacuated because of the dynamic aspect of the incident.
“We formed a chain across the side of the field in an attempt to prevent flames licking onto the houses, but as the flames jumped across the road, crews had to withdraw for their own safety.
“Unfortunately we were unable to prevent the flames from completely destroying two homes and damaging others but crews did a magnificent job and without their efforts the consequences could have been far more severe.”
Essex fire service had received dozens of calls from multiple addresses in Great Wakering. Firefighters worked in Shoebury Road, Poynters Lane, Seaview Drive and Estuary Gardens.
The Red Cross Victim Support Unit attended the scene to assist the families who lost their homes. Two people were taken to hospital with minor injuries.
The Essex Police helicopter was also in attendance. Shortly before 8.30pm, the fire was out and crews were damping down the area.