A ROAD sweeper exploded as it was being washed on a Basildon industrial estate.

Firefighters were called to Fiveways Municipal Vehicle Fire in Luckyn Lane at about 12.30pm today.

Two crews, including firefighters wearing breathing equipment, battled to bring the blaze under control and prevent it spreading to the neighbouring building.

The fire broke out while the road sweeper was parked in the courtyard of the premises next to wooden dog kennels.

The kennels were partly destroyed by the fire, but the dogs inside had been safely removed before the blaze spread.

Station officer David Walpole said: “It seems to be a mechanical or electrical issue.

“The guy who was washing the vehicle at the time noticed some sparks coming from the rear.

“He went to get help to put it out himself but by the time he returned it was too late to do anything about it.

“When we first arrived the vehicle was about 50 per cent on fire and spreading to the dog kennels next to it.

“There is no interior damage to the building, but the dog kennel is wooden rather than brick so it is quite badly damaged.”

Window fitter Dave Smith was working inside the neighbouring building when the fire broke out.

He said: “There was loads of loud popping then a large bang so everyone rushed outside.”

Workers were evacuated from the building, but were allowed to return inside after the fire was extinguished shortly before 1pm.

Mr Walpole said the fire service had been inundated with calls from the public, who saw smoke billowing from the industrial estate.

He added: “Initially one fire appliance was sent to the scene, but we received multiple calls from members of the public to say it was spreading to the nearby building.”