Fire service warns people not to have barbecues after blaze destroys gardens and damages 15 homes

·2-min read
Garden fire
A blaze destroyed gardens and affected 15 homes in Essex on Saturday night. (Essex Fire & Rescue Service)

Fire service bosses have urged people not to have barbecues or bonfires after a blaze destroyed gardens and outbuildings in an Essex street, affecting 15 homes.

Firefighters were called to Greenwood Close in Chelmsford at around 10pm on Saturday night after a garden caught alight.

The fire went on to spread to a group of conifer trees and ended up involving 15 homes, damaging exterior walls, windows and guttering, as well as destroying sheds and outbuildings.

Garden fire
The blaze started in one garden then spread to others and to a large area of conifers. (Essex Fire & Rescue Service)
Garden fire
An investigation is underway into the cause of the fire. (Essex Fire & Rescue Service)

Around 40 people were evacuated while firefighters tackled the blaze, which was eventually extinguished by 11.08pm on Saturday.

Police were also called to the scene and East of England Ambulance Service provided first aid to seven people.

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Dramatic pictures released by Essex Fire & Rescue Service show the blackened remains of various gardens and the extent of the damage.

An investigation is underway into the cause of the blaze but Essex Fire and Rescue Service urged people not to have any fires at the moment - including barbecues.

Garden fire
Firefighters urged people not to have bonfires or barbecues in the current weather. (Essex Fire & Rescue Service)

Area Manager Neil Fenwick said: "While summer weather usually provides the perfect opportunity to host a barbecue or gather around a chiminea in the evening, we’re strongly discouraging people from having any kinds of fires at the moment.

"The ground across Essex is extremely dry allowing fires to spread easily and quickly. This is true for gardens as well as fields and heathland.

"Please help us to help you. Please don’t have barbecues or bonfires. Please don’t use fireworks or set off sky lanterns. Doing so could cause a large scale fire like the one we’ve seen this evening."

Images showed the conifer trees completely stripped of their leaves by fire. (Essex Fire & Rescue Service)
Images showed the conifer trees completely stripped of their leaves by fire. (Essex Fire & Rescue Service)

The warning comes as the mercury was set to hit 28C in some parts of Britain on Sunday, with the heatwave due to continue into next week.

Meteorologists urged people to avoid midday sun and stay in the shade as the dry weather was predicted to last another seven to 10 days.