Forty people had to leave their homes in Chelmsford last night after an 'apocalyptic' fire ripped through gardens in Greenwood Close.
Seven crews were called to tackle the fire that started in a back garden and spread to a nearby group of conifer trees.
Around 15 gardens were destroyed and seven people needed first aid.
Colin Shead, who was in the area at the time said: "It was like an apocalyptic war film.
"The ash was falling from the sky like snow and covering the roads and cars. I've never seen anything like it." "The fire service were brilliant - huge thanks to them. They averted what would have been a huge catastrophe."
By 11pm last night, the fire had been put out and an investigation is now taking place to find out the cause of the fire.
Essex Fire and Rescue Area Manager, Neil Fenwick said it's important that people avoid barbecues or garden fires while the ground is so dry.
He said: "While summer weather usually provides the perfect opportunity to host a barbecue or gather around a chiminea in the evening, we’re strongly discouraging people from having any kinds of fires at the moment.
"The ground across Essex is extremely dry, allowing fires to spread easily and quickly. This is true for gardens as well as fields and heathland."Please help us to help you. Please don’t have barbecues or bonfires, please don’t use fireworks or set off sky lanterns. Doing so could cause a large-scale fire like the one we’ve seen this evening."
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