A block of flats had to be evacuated after a fire started in the basement car park.

Firefighters were called to De Grey Road, Colchester, at 1.14am this morning (Saturday).

When they arrived six wheelie bins, recycling bins and other refuse including a mattress and some wood were well alight.

The fire is being treated as deliberate.

Smoke from the fire filled the car park and other parts of the building, which meant the 12 flats had to be evacuated.

The fire damaged drainage pipes and electricity cables leaving some of the homes without electricity and running water.

Several cars in the car park were also damaged.

The fire crews spent about 45 minutes tackling the blaze.

No was injured in the fire.

Sub Officer Craig Todd, incident commander, said: “We arrived to find a very well developed fire, involving a large amount of rubbish, in the basement car park of a block of flats.

“Crews did an excellent job in tackling the fire in difficult and heavily smoke logged conditions. It was contained to the basement although much of the block suffered smoke damage.”