A PIE and mash van was destroyed during an overnight arson attack on a popular seafront.

Spencer’s Pie and Mash, in Eastern Esplanade, Canvey, was set on fire at shortly after 2am yesterday morning.

Two fire crews were called to the scene on the island.

And despite firefighters’ work, the popular seafront food outlet, which opened in May, was completely gutted by the fire.

Islanders have spoken of their sadness following the devastating blaze.

Dianna Potter, 67, of Long Road, Canvey, said: “I have bought lots of seafood from Spencer’s a few times and I am so sorry to hear of this.

“I can’t imagine what the owners are going through at this awful time.

“They have lost their livelihood and that is so sad.

“I can’t believe someone would have done this to a nice businessman like this.

“I hope the police catch who did this very soon.

“My thoughts are with Spencer and the owners at this time, and I hope they are doing ok.

“I saw the aftermath of the fire and it looked so awful.”

Kevin Taylor, 34, of May Avenue, Canvey, added: “I know of the owners and feel so sorry for them.

“I am shocked that it has happened on our seafront.

“The seafront has become such a lovely place and we don’t want yobs like this ruining it for us all.

“We need to show strong support for Spencer at this time.”

A spokesman for Essex Fire Service confirmed the fire has been recorded as “deliberate”.

A spokesman for Essex Police added: “We received a call from the fire service at around 2.40am on Tuesday, 14 January, with reports that a food hut was alight in Eastern Esplanade, Canvey.

“We are treating the fire as deliberate. Enquiries are ongoing.”

The fire was extinguished by 2.37am.

The outlet owners were contacted for comment but no response was received by the time the Echo went to press last night.