A RIVER changed colour after being polluted as “sugar and syrup” from a factory poured into the water following a large fire.

The River Crouch flowing through Memorial Park in Wickford was closed off yesterday after the water changed colour to a murky shade of orange.

It is believed a number of substances from Kent Foods Limited, on Christopher Martin Road, Basildon, leaked into the river after Saturday’s fire.

READ MORE >> Dog owners warned over river contamination after Basildon fire

Environment Agency bosses confirmed teams are keeping a close eye on the river and have put solutions into the water to return it to its normal state.

The issue should be resolved in coming days.

A total of 100 firefighters spent more than 48 hours battling the major blaze at the food distribution firm.

Now a cordon has been spotted around the river in the park – with lots of residents raising concerns about the impact on wildlife.

Wildlife enthusiast Vilma Smith-Fields said: “The wildlife, fish, birds and animals are a huge worry to everyone.

“I’m a big nature lover so my concerns over this event are very real. Dogs like to swim in there and sometimes there’s no stopping them. I’m very concerned.”

Rebecca Berry, 45, of Wickford said: “I hope this doesn’t badly impact our wildlife and I am too worried about dogs swimming or drinking from the river - as it could make them very sick.

“I hope the agencies keep an eye on this and it’ll be such a shame if the fish or any animals die because of this.”

Yesterday, bosses at the food firm confirmed they will look to rebuild a site in Essex, after the factory which deals with distribution of sugars, dairy products and other ingredients burnt to the ground.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Our officers are monitoring pollution in the River Crouch, Wickford, which has been caused by run-off fire water from a fire at Kent Foods in Basildon. Contractors have deployed absorbent booms to contain the pollution.

“We have not observed any dead fish or fish in distress, and levels of dissolved oxygen in the water are at acceptable levels.

“We continue to monitor the situation and have aeration equipment, to increase oxygen levels, on standby if needed.”