A huge fire erupted in a block of derelict flats causing severe damage before spreading to a nearby supermarket.

The blaze engulfed the half-finished flats in Howard Road, Chafford Hundred just before rush hour on Tuesday.

Thick smoke and enormous flames could be seen from as far away as Kent as ten fire crews rushed to the scene to try and get it under control.

Before they were able to, the fire spread to the back of Sainsbury’s in Burghley Road.

The firefighters managed to get it under control from inside the shop but the supermarket was completely evacuated as a precaution.

Basildon Standard:

Bannatyne’s gym was also evacuated but it is not believed to have been affected.

The fire was completely out by 7.30pm but two crews remained on site to ensure there were no hotspots.

A spokesman for the fire service said: "The derelict building has been completely destroyed by the fire.

"The supermarket's storage area at the back of the building has been damaged, but firefighters managed to stop it spreading to the main store."

Several roads were closed off while the emergency services dealt with the blaze causing rush-hour chaos for commuters trying to access the A13 at Lakeside.

A police spokesman said: “Police and the fire service will carry out a joint investigation to establish the cause of the fire.”

Basildon Standard:

One witness said he believed the manager’s office at Sainsbury’s had been completely destroyed.

Martin Dutt, a former journalist who lives near Gilbert Road, Chafford Hundred, said: “My wife rang and said she could see the fire so I went to have a look.

“There was a rumour going round among those nearby that teenagers had been seen in there this morning.

“The managers’ office at Sainsbury’s has definitely been destroyed.”