FAMILIES in at least eight homes were evacuated after a fire ripped through a neighbouring home in Basildon.

Two crews from Basildon and one from Rayleigh Weir rushed to Clay Hill Road after a blaze broke out, leaving the walls charred and windows blackened by smoke.

Firefighters quickly got to work battling the blaze, and were able to extinguish it.

Despite the speed in which the fire was put out, crews moved to evacuate families in neighbouring homes over fears it might spread, with residents fearing for their safety.

A mum, who asked not to be named, was was among those to be evacuated with her two small children.

She said: “My children were playing outside when they saw there was a huge cloud of smoke coming from the home.

“We all came back outside to look and then the police stopped us from going back inside our home in case it was dangerous.

“We are near the end of the block so we didn’t think it would spread that far, but it was still really worrying - and we were worried for the people whose home it was too.

“It was really scary for a bit - we couldn’t see any flames but there was so much thick black smoke.

“We just really hope that everybody was OK.”

Another woman who was evacuated said: “Our neighbour came and knocked on our door and said the police and fire service needed us to evacuate.

“It was all a little bit worrying really.

“We are concerned about whether anyone was hurt or not - we really hope not.”

A passer-by saw the police and fire service arrive. He said: “They rushed up really quickly.

“There were so many of them we were worried about what happened but they seemed to get it under control pretty quickly.”

An Essex Police spokesman confirmed that there are no suspicious circumstances and that the force would not be taking part in the investigation.

A fire service spokesman said: “Firefighters were called to a house fire in Clay Hill Road, Basildon.When crews arrived they reported the fire was in the first floor bedroom. Firefighters managed to extinguish the fire by 5pm.

“An investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the fire.”