RESIDENTS from flats above were evacuated after fire broke out in a high street takeaway.

Firefighters evacuated 10 residents as colleagues in breathing masks fought the fire at Yat Wong’s Chinese takeaway in Rayleigh High Street this morning.

Sub officer Marc Diggory, one of 15 firefighters called to the fire at about 10.30am, said: “It was a fire in an extractor unit above a kitchen range in the Chinese restaurant.

“Crews worked very, very quickly to contain the fire so it didn’t spread to any other part of the building.”

Residents gathered in a yard behind the takeaway for about 20 minutes as two firefighters in breathing masks fought the fire in the smoke-logged kitchen and two more aimed a jet at the external part of the unit, to which the fire had spread.

The kitchen also suffered smoke damage from the fire.

Shoppers in the busy High Street filed past as the firefighters brought the fire under control.

Richard Byrne, 37, who was evacuated from the flats above, said: “They just knocked on the door and said you’ve got to leave.

“We were stood outside for about 20 minutes.

“I’d have been more worried if I’d have seen the flames.”

The takeaway owner, who asked not to be named, said the large ventilation shaft had been professionally cleaned within the past year, so he could not understand how the fire started.

He hoped the takeaway would be open again to customers within the next fortnight, and thanked them for their patience.

The owner said: “We just need to get another extractor fan. We are getting in a professional company to fix it.

“It was a shock. I’m a bit gutted, especially with the recession.”

Two crews from Rayleigh Weir Fire Station and one from Hawkwell attended the fire.