As we left Basildon Town Centre today at 3 pm after a short shopping trip, we noticed some smoke rising into the sky. It appeared to becoming from close to where we live just south of Laindon Station and was obviously a substantial fire. As we drove along Laindon Link, the smoke became thicker and blacker. We switched on the car radio and heard a news report about a fire that had started in the roof of a shop at the Triangle in Langdon Hills that the fire service were battling to bring under control. Upon arriving home, our neighbours were standing outside watching the smoke. We chatted to them for a few minutes then took our shopping inside and decided to go and investigate.
The High Road was blocked, so we drove along Berry Lane and parked in Roseberry Avenue. We walked along Berry Lane among many others who were also making their way and stood outside the gates of Lincewood School. The fire was well established and black smoke was billowing up high and heading eastwards towards Basildon. At least two dozen emergency service personnel were on site including Fire Fighters and Policemen. There were also vehicles from the Gas Board and Water Board parked nearby plus two Paramedics. From here we could see that the whole of the roof was ablaze. An aerial platform had been positioned above the building from where a hose pipe was being trained on the roof. Several other hose pipes were being trained on the building from ground level.
Talking to others in the crowd, we learned that the fire had apparently been started due to an electrical fault in one shop which had blown some windows out and then quickly spread to the shop next door. Upon hearing the explosion, staff had quickly ushered the customers outside. The fire services received the call at 1:50 pm and although they appeared to have the situation under control, the fire was well established and kept flaring up. By 4 pm the Fire Fighters were breaking off the wooden sides of the shop and we could see that the fire had spread through the whole block of shops.
As far as we are aware, nobody was hurt thank goodness but our thoughts are with the staff who are obviously very shocked. We came away at 4:15 pm just as the light had started to fade, knowing that it would be many hours before the fire would burn out completely and those in attendance were in for a long evening, possibly all night.
The shops involved were a newsagents/post office/small supermarket, a fish and chip shop, Chinese takeaway and a beauty parlour.