A FIRE broke out at the old Tilbury leisure centre causing surrounding homes to be evacuated.
Firefighters were called to the derelict building in Civic Square, Tilbury, at about 4.45pm today.
The blaze was on the upper floor of the building, which soon engulfed half of the structure.
Nearby homes were evacuated at 6.25pm because of the smoke and surrounding roads had to be closed.
By 8pm crews were using an aerial ladder platform so they could strip cladding from the building.
Six engines from Grays, Orsett, Basildon and Corringham were sent to the scene.
By 8.20pm the fire had been extinguished.
The area had been cordoned off because it was feared a homeless person might be inside the building.
But luckily no one was injured.
The fire service said a full investigation will now be carried out to establish the cause of the blaze
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