RESIDENTS have told of the terrifying moments as they left their homes as flames engulfted the nearby Sergeants' Mess in Colchester.

The devastating blaze has caused serious damage to the Grade II listed building.

Seven fire crews managed to save the Sergeants Mess, the site of the starting gates of the Roman chariot circus, but it has been partially destroyed and the roof has collapsed.

Residents living nearby said thick, acrid smoke surrounded their homes which they had to leave.

Many went to stay with family and friends while other were cared for at an emergency centre set up at Colchester Leisure World.

For more on this story, get Monday's Gazette.

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