Rochford Explosion: 'Thieves To Blame'

Thieves using hot cutting equipment are thought to be the cause of one and a half tonnes of fireworks exploding in Rochford.

Residents had to be evacuated after fire broke out in a container over the weekend.

Crews were called to Purdeys Industrial Estate at 10.30pm on Saturday after a motion sensor in the container was activated.

Residents from cottages and a nearby care home were evacuated and a 600 metre exclusion zone set up. Due to the site's proximity to Southend Airport, a no-fly zone was established.

Specialists used robots to get close to the container, which eventually exploded just before 7am on Sunday.

Residents were eventually allowed to return to their homes just after 3pm on Sunday when fire crews also left the scene.

A joint Police and Fire Service investigation is now underway to establish the cause of the incident.