THE A127 was closed when a fire ripped through a timber merchant’s in Southend.

Crews from Leigh and Southend spent about an hour battling the blaze, which is believed to have spread from a bonfire to a shed containing a large amount of wood.

The flames and smoke caused the road to be closed just after 9.35pm on Monday as the fire, at the merchant in Prince Avenue, was put out.

Thewood is cut and stored in a yard attached to a house next to the Cottage Garden Nursery.

The owner of the yard, who asked not to be named, said: “There’s not much to say. We had a fire in a drum and sadly it somehow spread. I’m not sure if it was an ember blowing.

“It was quite surprising considering how much rain and cold weather we’ve had that it could have spread.

“I was inside and saw it, but right away I thought I’d better leave it to the fire brigade.”

He added: “It was an accident. It just happened.”

He also said he is retired and only supplies the nearby nursery with wood and that he still had other stock that could replace the damaged wood.

Dean Riley, watch manager at Leigh fire station, said: “It was well alight, we had a number of calls to the scene.

“We had to close the road because the fire and smoke were spilling across the carriageway from the property.

“It took about an hour to put out.”