A HUGE blaze has razed a block of derelict flats in Chafford Hundred, causing the evacuation of the adjacent Sainsbury’s superstore.
The fire broke out in the building in Howard Road at around 5pm and quickly took hold.
Flames soared into the air and a huge plume of smoke, containing large particles of burning insulating material drifted into the air, descending on nearby roads and fields.
Adjoining roads were blocked as teams of firefighters from across the region arrived to tackle the blaze from several sides. Aerial ladder plaforms were brought in from Harlow and Southend.
Just after 6pm Essex Fire and Rescue reported that the fire had spread to part of the supermarket, but the flames were ‘under control.’
Ten crews of firefighters from Grays, Orsett, Rayleigh Weir, Corringham, Brentwood, Basildon and Southend and and a London Fire Servie team from Wennington were involved in tackling the blaze which eventually led to the collapse of the derelict building.
A statement by Essex Police said they were assisting the fire service at the scene of the fire and road closures were in place in Burghley Road; on the A1306 between the Treacle Mine and Sainsbury’s; and the A1306 between Arena Essex and Burghley Road.
At 7.30pm the fire service reported: “The fire is now out. The incident has been scaled down, two fire engines will remain on site dampening down remian hotspots.”
The site of the fire has been a longstanding source of controversy in the area.
Planning permission was granted in 2009 by Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation for development of the site and work began on construction of a block of flats. However, within a year the company developing the site went bust and the buildings were left uncompleted and slowly became derelict.
In February this year a plan demolish the flats and redevelop the site to provide 203 one, two and three bedroom flats came before Thurrock Council and was initially deferred by councillors. In April, despite a number of reservations being expressed about the scheme, it gained approval.
Police and the fire service say they will be carrying out a joint investigation to establish the cause of the fire.