Caravan have been deliberately set on fire at a Wickford travellers site.

Neighbours surrounding the site claim they fear for their safety after a number of blazes at the Hovefields site.

Complaints have also been made to Basildon Council following claims from residents the council is not taking any action.

It is not known who is starting the fires.

Jill Walsh, spokesman of the Hovefields Residents’ Association, said: “It started off about two months ago when a group of caravans and mobile homes were taken into the middle of a field on the site and set on fire.

“The blaze was massive, and the fire brigade had to be called out, but the travellers were not very welcoming to them.

“Four more were moved out after that, and burned as well.”

Ms Walsh reported that, during the last two months, there have also been three gas bottle explosions on the site.

She said that a resident near to the encampment is fearful something worse could happen if the fires continue.

Ms Walsh added: “Since that time, we have had three further caravan and mobile home fires, filled with rubbish and three gas bottles explosions.

“These fires are less than 50 yards from properties.

“People are continuing to use is a dumping ground for their old vehicles, it is a major hazard to everybody in the community around it.

“We have notified Basildon Council and asked them ‘what are you going to do about it’.

“One of the residents here lives in constant jeopardy, but the council are being silent.”

A spokesman for Essex Fire and Rescue said: “Two crews from Basildon and one from Wickford were called to Hovefields Drive, Wickford, at 9.21pm on October 2.

“On arrival firefighters reported that an area of wasteland, measuring around 30m by 10m was alight. Firefighters extinguished the fire by 10.30pm. The cause of the fire has been recorded as deliberate.”

This was one of a number of incidents.

In September Ms Walsh met with Mark Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, and council planning officers where the MP said he would push for councils to receive more powers to deal with illegal encampments.

Basildon Council has stated it is working to prevent any further incidents happening on the site and is aware of the problems.

A spokesman for Basildon Council said: “The council has been proactive in dealing with planning breaches on land West of Hovefields and has implemented enforcement action recently.

“We continue to work with partners to find effective resolutions to community issues.”