Six homes were hit by a rapidly spreading fire after a shed caught alight in Basildon.

Minutes after firefighters were called to the scene, in Stirling Place, the blaze had already spread to the six homes.

The fire had hit the rear of the buildings in Stirling Place and Burlington Court, with other sheds and fences nearby also engulfed by the flames.

Residents spotted large plumes of thick black smoke and even flames rising from the gardens, as the blaze spread through the gardens.

And neighbours have spoken of their shock at the incident.

A father-of-two said: “I saw the smoke rising into the sky and could see large orange glowing flames in between the homes.

“I was all a bit scary to be honest, and all looked very serious.

“As far as I know it didn’t affect any of the homes but lots of sheds, garden furniture and equipment was burnt.”

The 39-year-old. who works in insurance, added: “I would imagine people have lost quite a lot of their possessions, which I think is very sad.

“I can’t quite believe how far and much it spread and so quickly; it’s crazy and seems to be totally unheard of to me.

“I am totally shocked about this as nothing ever happens here, it’s such a nice little quiet road.”

A grandmother-of-three added: “I saw lots of thick black smoke and quickly rushed to shut my doors and windows, which had been open as it’s been so hot.

“There were lots of people in the street and I could see lots of firefighters running about and between the houses.

“There was quite the commotion and it was clear something serious was happening, it’s now all everyone’s talking about.”

The 56-year-old shopworker added: “I’ve heard from my neighbours that no homes were affected and nobody was hurt which is the main thing.”

A spokesman for Essex County Fire and Rescue confirmed crews fought the blaze for almost an hour, between 7.45pm and 8.35pm on Monday.

Howard Midwood, watch manager at Basildon fire station, said: “When we arrived the fire had already spread to sheds and fences in neighbouring properties, as well as the rear of six houses in Stirling Place and Burlington Court.

“If it hadn’t been for the quick actions of our crews, the flames could have made their way inside these properties and caused far more damage.

“Our firefighters worked extremely hard to surround the fire and bring it under control, before extinguishing it by 8.35pm.”

Although no official cause has been ascertained, the service has issued warnings to people who are setting small bonfires or barbecues in their gardens.

A spokesman urged people to always set fires away from houses, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees and shrubs.