Firefighters have tackled a fire in a disused building, which used to be a leisure centre.
Firefighters were called to the Tilbury Leisure Centre in Civic Square, Tilbury, just after 4:45pm on Saturday afternoon.
On arrival the officer in charge reported that the building, which is 40 by 20 metres and has two storeys, had a fire in the upper floor. It was later reported that around 50% of the building was involved in the fire and the remainder of the building heavily smoke logged.
A number of homes near the building were evacuated just before 6:25pm, because of smoke from the fire.
The fire was being tackled on multiple fronts, and crews used two hose reel jets, two main jets and a ground monitor (an unmanned jet) to tackle the fire. Firefighting operations continued despite being hampered by poor water supplies, before four relief crews took over at the scene from 7pm, and began using the aerial ladder platform to strip external cladding from the building.
Firefighters in breathing apparatus also entered the building and used one main jet and one hose reel jet to extinguish hot-spots. Six engines from Orsett, Grays, Corringham and Basildon attended the scene, with the fire being extinguished at 8:20pm.
A full investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the fire.