A HOUSE fire in Rayleigh has left a woman homeless.

The blaze, which saw flames engulf the upstairs bedroom, happened around 9pm last night.

The woman was taken to hospital.

Three crews attended the scene at Barrymore Walk, in Rayleigh.

Eyewitness, Jai Moloney, 20, from Rayleigh, said: "It was a pretty fierce fire - very intense.

"The fire brigade were there and were pouring water in through the window but you could still see the flames glowing.

"There were lots of people around watching and many who seemed concerned and in distress.

"There was on man who looked quite upset and he was talking to the police. I think he lived in the house next door.

"There was an ambulance there and three police cars.

"Apparently it's not the first time a fire has happened there."

Southend Standard:

Police were at the scene this morning

A resident, who did not want to be named, added: "I suspect the woman had fallen asleep with a cigarette or something.

"There's been about three or four fires at her place already.

"It's terrifying really - she came running out of the house and she looked like she was all over the place."

A spokesman for Essex Fire Service, said: "Crews were called to a mid-terrace house after a neighbour noticed smoke and called 999.

"On arrival firefighters reported that the house was 50% alight and completely filled with smoke.

"Firefighters worked quickly to stop the spread of fire to the neighbouring properties and extinguished the fire by 10.10pm.

"The house has suffered both fire and smoke damage and is no longer habitable."

Southend Standard:

The aftermath of the blaze - most of the house is gutted

Mark Elliott, watch manager at Rayleigh Weir Fire Station, said: "This incident shows how effective smoke alarms are in alerting you to the first sign of fire.

"We were alerted to the fire after the neighbour's smoke alarm went off due to the amount of smoke in the neighbouring property.

"The number one way you can protect your family from fire is to ensure you have a working smoke alarm installed on every level."

An investigation into the cause of the fire will take place in due course.

Southend Standard:

An investigation is underway

Another resident, who also did not want to be named, said: "There was a lady in the house and I heard the neighbours two doors down screaming - a lady say 'don't you dare go in there'.

"Then he had a patio stick and was trying to smash one of the windows and as he did that, the lady came running out of the house.

"The flames were huge coming out of the bedroom window."

Southend Standard:

A police cordon is currently in place outside the front and back of the property

A spokesman for the Ambulance Service, said: "We were called at 9.09pm yesterday with reports of a fire in Barrymore Walk, Rayleigh.

"We sent an ambulance officer and one ambulance.

"A woman was taken to Southend University Hospital for further treatment."