A WOMAN suffered life-threatening burns after the patio heater she was sitting around caught fire in Basildon yesterday evening.

Two other adults and one child also suffered serious burns with two casualties being taken to Basildon Hospital and the other two to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford.

The fire service was called to Napier Close, Basildon, shortly before 8.30pm on Friday and two crews from Basildon fire station attended.

Upon arrival the crews confirmed serious burns to four casualties and used showers and hose reel jets to try and cool their burns.

Basildon fire station officer Mark Eaglestone said: "It was a mild evening so the four people concerned were sitting around the heater, outside, at the front of the property.

"They all have very serious burns but one of them suffered life threatening burns.

"We treated them under showers and hose reel jets then left them in the care of the ambulance service.

"The one patient's burns were so severe they had burned through the nerve endings and they could not feel anything.

"The heater used some sort of liquid fuel, we have not yet established what kind, and at some point it created a vapour cloud and ignited."

Two ambulances were called to the scene at 9.04pm.

A level two fire investigation, undertaken when there is a likelihood of the incident going to court, will be carried out into the cause of the fire.