FIRE bugs targeted the field of a popular leisure centre by setting light to bushes and grass in a ditch behind the complex.

Dog walkers reported watching the fire brigade leave the site at Waterside Farm Leisure Centre, in Somnes Avenue, Canvey, on Sunday evening, having already managed to distinguish a deliberate fire on the land by 8.15pm.

But just 20 minutes later, at around 8.35pm, the crew found themselves returning to the site - this time to distinguish another two fires which were about 300 metres apart.

The team extinguished each blaze, which have also been recorded as deliberate, by 9.06pm.

The fresh arson attacks come after a similar spate on the field last year.

Sheridan Sayer, who lives in Link Road, said: “The trouble is the fire service are needed everywhere, even for smaller fires like this. But what else are they supposed to do? They can’t leave it and wait until it spreads.

“It’s a waste of resources, especially when they could be needed at another fire which could be on a much larger scale.

“Not only that, but as a resident it’s frustrating for us to keep seeing or hearing about.”

But with a predicted heatwave set to hit the UK this week, concerns have been raised about what this could mean should the problem continue.

The 63-year-old, from Canvey, added: “Something needs to be done. It won’t take much for it to go up with this hot weather.

“Surely the parents must know where their kids are or at least that they’re out? It was pitch black when this happened.”

Norman Smith, leader of Castle Point Council, added: “This isn’t the first time that something like this has happened over there unfortunately.

“There was a spate of these incidents at the site a year or so ago which seemed to die down, but at the weekend there was an issue in one of the ditches back there.

“It’s disappointing and frustrating that these mindless idiots are doing this, especially when the grass is so dry.

“Sadly it’s happening quite far back on the fields, so I don’t think CCTV will have picked it up. All we can do is ask staff at the centre to be vigilant and urge anyone who sees anything to please report it.”