A MAN was treated for burns after a van exploded.

Residents were woken by a loud bang just after 5am this morning.

It is believed a cylinder exploded in the vehicle, which was parked behind a row of houses in The Crescent, Great Horkesley.

Worried neighbours, including James Grange, helped to evacuate the houses closest to the blaze before fire crews arrived.

Mr Grange said: “It was very scary when we heard the noise.

“The fire brigade was on the scene very quickly and made sure everybody was safe.

“Our neighbour is a policeman so we were grateful he was there and he reacted very well.

“I cannot praise everyone involved highly enough.

“We were out of the house until about 6.15am but the emergency services were amazing.”

A spokesman for the fire service confirmed two appliances were called to the scene in the early hours of this morning and a man was given medical treatment for burns.

Fire crews put out the blaze within an hour of being called but police and fire officers remained at the scene in the hours afterwards as a joint investigation was launched to try and establish the cause of the fire.

Douglas Mead lives nearby and said he was woken up by the explosion.

He said: “I was woken up by a very loud bang.

“I was sleeping in the front bedroom which is the furthest away from where the fire was.

“I went over to the back bedroom and saw a light outside the window which did not look quite right for that time in the morning because it was so bright.”

Mr Mead, who has lived on the road for close to 40 years, said: “I hope it is an accident and a case of something going wrong inside the van.”