Firefighters who spent three days tackling a huge blaze at a Pitsea recycling centre have thanked the "amazing" volunteers who kept them "well-fed and hydrated".

A total of 52 Essex Fire and Rescue crews were called to a recycling centre in Archers Fields, at Burnt Mills industrial estate, over a period of three days after 250 tonnes of recycling and plant machinery went up into flames last Friday afternoon.

Plumes of smoke could be seen across south Essex as crews tackled the flames all weekend, with crews changing tactics and working with the site team to pull apart the body of the fire in order to extinguish it.   

Now, the fire service has shared its thanks to volunteers at The Salvation Army who brought food and drinks to the firefighters, helping them to focus on tackling the blaze.

A spokesman for the Essex Fire and Rescue Service said: "Big shout out to the amazing volunteers at The Salvation Army. They were there for us during a challenging weekend at a recycling centre fire in Pitsea.

"Their support kept our hardworking crews well-fed and hydrated, allowing us to tackle the incident.

"The dedication and kindness shown by The Salvation Army in often wet and cold conditions are truly fantastic and deeply appreciated. A heartfelt thank you for providing that all-important cuppa with a smile!"

The fire service revealed on Sunday that the huge fire had been started by a lithium ion battery put into a skip, and have stressed the importance of disposing batteries properly to residents.

A spokesman said: "The impact of this fire on the business has been huge, which has been caused due to irresponsible disposal. Always check with your local authority for suitable battery recycling arrangements in your area."