A BURNHAM hero helped save nine horses during the tragic fire at Elmwood Equestrian Centre that killed a dozen horses.

Charlie Mecoy, 18, was driving back from a Christmas fayre in Billericay on Sunday night when he noticed the fire at the Maldon Road stables.

As he got closer, he saw the size of the blaze.

After stopping to call the emergency services, he ran into the stable to rescue as many animals as he could.

Charlie said: “I don’t know why I did what I did. I drove past originally. You have that feeling that there is bound to be someone there. You think it must be being sorted. But something told me to turn round and go back there.

“I was shocked. It didn’t seem real. I stopped at the top of the drive and called 999 because I couldn’t see anyone down there.

“A lady that was driving past also stopped. We went down the drive to see what was happening, opening a gate along the way so that the fire engines could get through. That is when we heard the sound of the horses.

“I sprinted towards it and just stood there in shock for a bit, and then ran in to try and get as many out as possible. It was awful.”

Charlie can’t remember how long he was at the yard or how many animals he saved, but can remember the conditions.

He added: “The heat was like nothing I have ever felt, it was so hot. The fire was huge.

“The whole building was completely up in flames by the time I got there. It had just started falling down. The noise of it, the crashing and the crackling, it was like something out of a movie.”

A spokesman for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service yesterday said the fire was “most likely” arson.

The police investigation continues.