A YOUNG child was among three people rescued from a fast-spreading blaze after a pile of rubbish caught alight outside flats in Basildon.

Fire crews from Rayleigh and Basildon were called to the incident in Witchards after reports that a fire was rapidly spreading with thick smoke spotted. 

On arrival firefighters reported three people, including a young child, had been rescued by ladder by a member of the public.

However, four still needed assistance with exiting their homes. 

Burnt - the fire started from a pile of rubbish set alightBurnt - the fire started from a pile of rubbish set alight (Image: ECFRS)

Firefighters quickly worked to lead the other trapped residents to safety while other firefighters began to tackle the fire outside. 

Crews quickly surrounded the fire, which was in a covered walkway at the side of the flats, extinguished it and then cleared the building of smoke. 

Fire officers worked with partners to make the scene safe and give additional support to the residents. 

Five flats have been left with smoke damage following the blaze. 

Blackened - the fire caused damage to five flatsBlackened - the fire caused damage to five flats (Image: ECFRS)

Station Manager Russ Freeman said: "We believe the fire started from a pile of rubbish set alight by discarded smoking materials. 

“It spread incredibly quickly, producing a large amount of smoke and heat as it did so.

"There were about ten people in the building at the time. Before we arrived a member of the public used a ladder to rescue three people from two flats.

“We rescued an additional four when we arrived, leading them out via their front doors. The rest made their own way out.

"Because of the amount of smoke created, five out of the six flats have suffered smoke damage."