THREE boys have been arrested on suspicion of arson following a massive barn fire.

Emergency services were called to the junction of Outwood Common Road and Balmoral Road in Billericay at about 1.50pm on Monday after the barn containing 100 tonnes of straw went up in flames.

A JCB and a lorry were also on fire on the site near Balmoral Close.

Seven fire crews from Basildon, Billericay, Brentwood, Wickford and Chelmsford battled the flames.

But the barn is still smoking this morning.

Staff at the nearby Ramsden Hall School were forced to send around 60 pupils home early on Monday as a safety precaution.

The East of England Ambulance Service’s hazardous response team was also called after asbestos was discovered in the roof of the barn which could have posed a danger to residents.

The three boys, aged 11 and 12, were released on police bail until May 28.