A HUGE pile of rubbish next to an unauthorised travellers’ site was set on fire.

Two fire crews from Grays were called to the site at Lakeside coach park, off Pilgrims Lane, where a pile of rubbish spread 60 metres by 30 metres across an adjacent field was alight at about 9.35pm on July 17.

Firefighters used two hose reels to extinguish the flames, which had covered about half the rubbish pile by the time they arrived, and at 9.46pm the incident commander requested an additional engine from Orsett for extra water.

The fire, which was believed to have been set deliberately, was out by 10.10pm, with firefighters using one main jet and a water relay.

Lakeside has already secured an eviction order from the courts to remove the travellers from the site, which they are not authorised to occupy, though bailiffs have yet to execute it at the time of going to press.

Caravans appeared in the coach park at the end of June and, since then, large piles of mixed rubbish accumulated on the grassed area next to it.

Lakeside operations manager Kate Miller said: “We can confirm that there was a fire on the coach park that the travellers are currently occupying.

“We have secured an eviction order through the courts and we are now waiting for the bailiffs to carry out the order. In the meantime, we are looking into how best to manage the rubbish and waste disposal.”

One 51-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, said she was horrified at the scale of the rubbish.

She said: “I noticed it the other day when I went to have my car washed at the garage – it’s just disgusting.

“Whoever ends up cleaning it up is looking at lorry loads.”

South Chafford Councillor Tunde Ojetola said travellers had the right to stay somewhere while passing through Thurrock but it was their responsibility to find an authorised site.