RESIDENTS were evacuated from their homes as firefighters tackled a blaze at the rear of a Westcliff church this morning.

Crews from Southend, Leigh, and Rayleigh attended the scene at Seventh Day Adventist Church in Northview Drive after receiving a call at 4.15am.

When fire crews arrived at the scene, the incident commander reported that the single story church was 25% alight and completely smoke-logged.

Around 12 people were evacuated from nearby homes and five people received first aid from paramedics at the scene after suffering mild smoke inhalation.

Wearing breathing apparatus and using two main jets and two hose reels, fire crews extinguished the blaze and left the scene at around 6.30am.

An investigation is currently being carried out to establish the cause of the fire.