A MAN has appeared in court charged with two counts of arson with intent to endanger life.

Sam Brown, 26, of Albert Road, Southend, appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court yesterday, following two fires in London Road, Westcliff.

He is accused of starting a fire under flats in Socata House, just before 11pm on Sunday, leading to the evacuation of 16 flats and damaging a motorbike and car.

He is also accused of starting a fire near the Tesco Express store on the same road, at 4am the same night, leading to 30 people being evacuated from their homes.

Leslie Chipps, prosecuting, said: “The fires put a significant number of people at risk and in fear for their life."

Brown applied for bail during the short hearing, but he was remanded in custody before appearing at Basildon Crown Court in November.

Leslie Turner, Brown’s defence solicitor, asking for bail said Brown would submit to any constraints imposed, but the bench – chaired by Margarette Jakes – refused her application.

Both fires were dealt with by the fire service, limiting damage to flats above each fire to just smoke damage.

However, about £5,000 of damage is thought to have been done to a Ford Focus car and a Yamaha motorbike at Socata House.