STUNNING pictures have captured firefighters battling a massive field fire which destroyed a combine harvester.

Crews were called to farm land off Colchester Road, Ardleigh, shortly before 7pm on Tuesday. Some 15 hectares of land were alight.

Crew from Clacton, Colchester, Weeley and Wivenhoe were scrambled to the scene and set about tackling the stubble fire.

Basildon Standard:

They took some 90 minutes to get it under control.

Images from Gazette Camera Club member Twiggy Branch show the brave firefighters tackling a wall of flames, along with the burned out shell of the combine harvester after it was destroyed.

Thick black smoke from the blaze could be seen from miles around.

Fortunately, no-one appeared to have been hurt.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has issued safety advice after a number of blazes in fields over the last few days.

Hot and dry weather this weekend is likely to add to the ongoing problems.

Basildon Standard:

Head of community safety Lee Lucas said: “We have been experiencing soaring temperatures and dry conditions for over a week now and the forecasts looks like it will continue well into next week.

“The weather has made our countryside very dry and the risk of fires increase.

“We want everyone to have fun and enjoy the weather by going outside, but it is important to stay fire aware when out and about to ensure we can minimalise the fire risk.

“This week we have seen incidents involving bonfires which have spread out of control because the ground is so dry. These fires can be devastating and can cause significant damage. They can take hold and spread at great speed. If you’re thinking of having a bonfire please reconsider and wait until the current weather conditions have subsided.”

Anyone out in the countryside should take cigarettes and rubbish home with them.

If you spot a fire call 999 and do not try to tackle anything which looks as if it would need more than a bucket of water to extinguish.