Firefighters rushed to tackle a deliberate fire after a car was set alight at a popular caravan park.

The car, believed to be a white Mercedes, was set on fire at Thorney Bay Caravan Park, Thorney Bay Road, on Canvey at about 3.30am this morning.

Large flames and plumes of thick smoke engulfed the vehicle as the fire took hold of the car at the caravan park.

There was also damage to a nearby parked car.

Witnesses and residents were woken up by loud bangs as the flames engulfed the car.

Eye-witness Pamela Scott said: “I was woken up by a couple of very loud.

“I didn’t know what it was at first and was quite shocked by the sounds as it was like a big explosion.

“The smoke was horrendous and I’ve never seen anything like it in my whole life.”

The 45-year-old added: “It was probably stolen as I’ve never seen the car before.

“The poor couple who live close to my caravan had parked either side so have double heat damage to both their cars now.”

Kevin Watts added: “I saw the huge flames and big clouds of smoke.

“I feel so sorry for the owner of the car as it’s likely they just parked up for the night and them someone’s come along and destroyed their car.”

The 33-year-old added: “It’s disgusting that people can do this sort of thing.

“I hope these arsonists are caught and dealt with very soon. We simply cannot have this going on in our community.

“I’ve lived here for about ten years now and this is a really nice quiet community.

“I think it’s savage to do something like this to someone else’s property.

“I don’t understand what goes through people’s minds to think it’s ok to do this.

“It’s a good job that it wasn’t near a gas bottle.”

An Essex Fire Service spokesperson said: “Firefighters were called to reports of a vehicle fire in Thorney Bay Road, Canvey at 3.24am.

“Crews extinguished the fire by 3.53am.

“The cause of the fire has been recorded as deliberate.”

Essex Police was unavailable for comment.

The Echo contacted the park owners for comment.