FIREFIGHTERS tackled a huge blaze at a yard.
Crews were called to Tiffaynes Farm in Burnt Mills Road on the Burnt Mills industrial estate, Basildon, at about 5.10pm yesterday.
Essex Fire and Rescue Service’s incident support unit was also drafted in and the road was closed at the junction with Pound Lane with police diverting traffic away from the scene.
It is believed gas bottles were involved in the fire.
Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick, incident commander, said: The fire involved a derelict vehicle workshop and developed rapidly because the building was made of wood.
"Firefighters worked swiftly to tackle the blaze from all angles and we had to get additional resources to the scene quickly as there was a shortage of water on site and we needed more manpower for breathing apparatus. There was the complication of cylinders but once we were able to satisfy ourselves they were not a danger, we were able to get on with the job of dealing with the fire itself.
"At this stage, it's too early to say how the fire started. We are conducting an investigation and that's already under way."
Elaine Earnshaw, 34, of Whitmore Way, Basildon, was driving to a park in Wickford through the estate as the fire broke out.
She said she could see thick black smoke from her car window and had to pull into a farmer’s field.
She said: “We could hear the fire crews already. There were people walking about everywhere, someone had called the fire brigade already. Cars had blocked the road so we pulled back into a field.
“It was on Burnt Mills, on one of the farms next to what was the koi farm, and sounded like something with either gas or petrol went up as there was an almighty bang as we sat watching from the car.
“There was a massive bang and flames shot up 15 to 20 foot in the air. It caught the trees alight.
“The road from was cordoned off by the police. There were about four fire crews, we think two from Basildon, one from Wickford and one from Rayleigh possibly.”
Nearby businesses also heard explosions coming from the site.
Smoke - fire engines are obscured as smoke billows across Burnt Mills Road. Picture from Echo photographer Steve O'Connell
One worker at KC Cars, in Barclay Road, added: “I heard some gas canisters go off and saw black smoke coming up.
“I heard it at about 5.20pm. My son drove past and said it was down Burnt Mills.
“I think it’s the yard that do all the gearboxes down there.
“I was sitting in my kitchen and just heard this bang and saw a load of black smoke.”
An investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire.
Divisional Officer Neil Fenwick, incident commander, said: "At this stage, it's too early to say how the fire started. We are conducting an investigation and that's already under way."