A MAN was taken to hospital after his beard caught alight during a houseboat blaze on Canvey.

The man, in his 70s, saw his beard go up in smoke when a gas canister used for cooking and heating exploded and went up in flames.

He was taken to Southend Hospital for treatment for facial burns, but was not badly hurt and was soon allowed to return home.

Crews from Canvey fire station were called to Bridge Boatyard, in Canvey Road, at 12.45pm on Saturday along with paramedics and the Canvey Coastguard team, who made sure the moored boat and surrounding vessels were safe.

Terry Trayler, crew manager at Canvey fire station, said: “The man really didn’t want to go to hospital, but where the gas canister had flared up it had burnt his beard and caused minor injuries to his face.

“It is always best to be cautious, in these situations, but fortunately he seemed to be fine.

“There was no serious damage caused to the boat which is good.

It could have been a lot worse.”

Bridge Boatyard is owned by supermarket giant Morrisons, which has stores in Hadleigh and on Canvey.

It was previously dubbed a “shanty town” and residents faced eviction after Castle Point Council put pressure on Morrisons to take action against people permanently living on the site.

It has since been transformed with the help of boat owner Steve Bines, 45, who took over temporary management of the yard.

Canvey Tory councillor Ray Howard said: “There is a lot of work going on there now to sort the site out. It’s located on the gateway to Canvey, so needs to be looking in top condition.”