GRAYS police officers who tried to save a man from a burning vehicle have been awarded for their bravery.

The three officers from Chigwell and Grays have won the Essex Police Federation Bravery Award.

Temporary Inspector Rebecca Lee, PC Larry Litchfield and PC Scott Thomas attended the crash in July 2018 in Tilbury after the driver had ploughed his vehicle into a tree.

When the officers arrived at the scene near Tilbury Docks, the vehicle was on fire with the driver trapped inside.

PC Litchfield tried to use the fire extinguisher from his patrol vehicle, but it had little effect. He then slowed the traffic down and managed to get a tanker to stop in order to use the larger extinguishers they carry.

T/Insp Lee and PC Thomas arrived on the scene and all the officers joined PC Litchfield in trying to douse the flames.

The officers made repeated attempts to try and rescue the driver, but they just couldn’t get near enough to the vehicle as it was just too hot and too dangerous.

Despite their incredibly brave efforts, the driver died at the scene.

PC Litchfield said: “I’ve never come across a fire that close up before, and how powerful it was.

“You just feel a little bit helpless that you can’t get this guy out.

“So, I stood in the carriageway, waving my arms, trying to stop a tanker from coming down and thinking that they’ve got a fire extinguisher and it would be quite a big one.

“I managed to get the tanker to stop.

“I went over to the car and tried to put the fire out. We still couldn’t get close enough and the fire extinguisher still wasn’t doing too much. We just couldn’t get to him.”

He added that it was bittersweet to be nominated for the award “because there wasn’t a happy ending.”

Essex Police Federation chairwoman Laura Heggie said the officers had shown great courage and tenacity in trying to save the man’s life.

“It was a horrifying scene for these officers to come across,” she said. “The car was absolutely engulfed in flames and they did all they could to try and save the man’s life. Sadly, on this occasion there was not a better outcome.”