FIRE-starting yobs have been slammed after starting a large blaze in a park just feet from dozens of trees.

Fire crews were forced to put out the fire in Friars Park, Shoebury, amid fears it was spreading into the trees nearby.

Lolly Rushton, who lives next to the park, insisted fires have become a regular problem in the park during lockdown.

Her mum, 59, saw four men, believed to be in there 20s, standing around the fire at roughly 7.30pm Saturday night.

Miss Rushton, 22, said: “It was feet away from the trees, it could have spread so quickly.

“They just ran off when the fire crews arrived. Normally these things are started by teenagers, but these looked like four fully grown men.

“Mum was walking through the park on her daily walk, she came home straight away and we called the fire brigade.

“It’s unfair on the residents in Kestrel House. retirement home, I wouldn’t want any alarm to be caused to the residents living there.

“It looked like they had lit the wood on the ground with petrol. It was a really large fire in the end, it wasn’t just a small bonfire started from scratch.

“We had to take a different route home, we were scared they might follow us.”

Kestrel House, a retirement home, sits off Eagle Way, near to Friars Park.

Miss Rushton used the what3words website to report the fire. What3words gives every three square metre in the world three names, which can be relayed to the emergency services.

She believes this allowed the fire service to respond “within minutes.”

She added: “Mum has seen burnt logs thrown in the pond.

“A lot of people have seen similar incidents before. It’s such a shame.

“There’s a lot of wildlife in the park that could lose their lives to these fires.

“Parks like these are so important, especially at the moment.”

She also said how there was reportedly a similar incident last week, which also saw a “huge burnt log” tossed into the pond.

A spokesman for Essex fire said: “Firefighters were called to a small bonfire in the park.

“Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and left within 20m minutes. The fire was set deliberately.”