FED-UP residents have called for better security at a blocks of flats following a fire in a bin store.

Residents in Carousel Steps on the Kursaal Estate, Southend say security doors must be improved to prevent vandals and vagrants from gaining access and causing repeated problems.

Steve Campion, 57, who has lived on the estate for 25 years, said: “Estuary Housing say people keep breaking the security doors but there are alternatives like electronic doors but they won’t listen.

“We have all sorts in here. It’s awful. We’ve had bin fires before but this was the worst.

“The fire brigade couldn’t get access to the store at first. Smoke had billowed through the building where there are young children. There were toxic fumes coming from the burning plastic.

“My wife has to use breathing apparatus and it affected her badly.

“I don’t have a landline now as the heat melted telephone wires.”

The fire, at 11.30pm on July 28, has lead to renewed calls for something to be done about non-residents gaining access.

Firefighters had to break into the bin storeroom as the door was locked.

Firefighters who attended the incident however, said they don’t believe the fire was deliberate.

They confirmed they had to gain access by cutting into the roller shutters on the store as no key was available but said this was “normal practice”.

The fire is thought to have been started accidentally by a disposable barbecue which had been hurled down the chute and had not been properly extinguished.

A spokesman for Estuary Housing claimed residents had chosen to keep a security presence in 2015 ahead of replacement security doors.

The spokesman said: “This is still the case and therefore there are no plans to replace any security doors as it is not what the tenants want.

“We will continue to periodically consult with residents but it is our understanding people living on the estate are happy with the security guard service and feel that it has made a real difference to where they live.”

The spokesman added: “The housing team have confirmed they have not received any reports recently in Carousel Steps.”

Regarding the fire the spokesman said: “The fire resistant fire shutter does have a manual override for fire brigade use.

“On this occasion they felt it would take too long to use this method and therefore used an alternative means of accessing the source of the fire.”

The shutter will be replaced to make sure it is secured again.