A police officer has been dismissed from Essex Police for gross misconduct after admitting criminal offences.
Westcliff Flats Evacuated In Gas Mains Alert
Two blocks of flats in Essex have been evacuated after gas mains were targeted by a suspected arsonist.
The first incident happened at 11.38pm on Sunday when firefighters were called to reports that vehicles in a car port were alight and gas supply pipes had been damaged beneath a block of flats in London Road, Westcliff.
A 70-year-old resident was treated for shock by paramedics.
About five hours later, firefighters were called to a "potentially deadly" fire involving traffic cones and a propane cylinder arranged over the gas main supplying another block of flats and a Tesco Extra shop in the same street.
About 30 people had to leave their homes and a cordon was established around the leaking gas main.
Referring to the second blaze, Assistant Divisional Officer Martyn Hodder said: "This appears to have been a deliberate attempt to damage a gas main, it was directly under the stairs which are the only means of escape for a block of 15 flats and could have had deadly consequences had our crews not got on top of it as quickly as they did.
"The burning traffic cones created a huge amount of thick black smoke and the propane cylinder could have exploded at any moment causing a great deal of damage.
"This seems to have been a very serious attempt to cause havoc and crews did a fantastic job tackling the fire and getting everyone safely out of their flats."
Essex Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the two incidents are being linked.
Essex Police said a 25-year-old man from the town was arrested on suspicion of arson at about 5am on Monday.
He is being held in custody.
A five-year-old boy has suffered life-threatening injuries when a suspected learner driver crashed into him in Saffron Walden.
A man who set a fire on the ninth floor of a block of flats in Southend, killing a neighbour and her unborn child, has been made subject of a hospital order.
Heart can reveal since so called 'legal highs' were banned last May - Essex Police have made 9 arrests relating to the supply or possession of the drugs.
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