QUICK work by firefighters stopped a blaze in a shed ripping through a house and a destroying classic car.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service teams from Colchester and Tiptree were called to the incident in Queensland Drive, Colchester, at 4.30pm on Wednesday.

A seven-year-old girl spotted the flames rising from the shed and raised the alarm.

By the time the crews arrived, the fire had already spread to the garage and a Ford car which exploded.

It was extinguished within an hour although the shed, car and garage were destroyed.

Damage was also done to a neighbour’s garage but crews stopped it doing too much damage to the houses or a classic Audi parked nearby.

The house occupant said the family’s efforts to escape were hampered because housing association Notting Hill Genesis had failed to repair windows and doors.

She said: “Most of our windows are broken and unable to open. Our front door is also broken but we luckily were able to get our children our through a small window by our stairs.”

The family usually leaves through the back door.

Crew manager Dave Farrant, from Colchester fire station, praised the occupants for their quick thinking but urged people to respect social distancing in the pandemic.

He said: “When we arrived at the incident, we were pleased to see the residents had already got themselves outside of their home and at a safe distance from the fire.

“Our crews worked to stop the fire spreading further and by doing so managed to stop major damage to the house as well as saving a classic car.

“We appreciate the gratitude and support we continually receive from our public but we want to take this opportunity to remind people to give us space to work.

“We often see crowds gather when we are dealing with incidents, but please remember that keeping your distance from the incident, our crews and other people is as important as ever.”

The fire started accidentally.

A Notting Hill Genesis spokesman  said: “We are aware that there are long-standing issues with the windows at the address. We have sent surveyors to investigate the resident’s complaint and they confirmed the windows are in poor condition.

"Our contractors attended as arranged on 4 November but unfortunately there was no answer. A further appointment on 11 November was cancelled on the day as the resident reported suffering Covid-19 symptoms. The next appointment had been arranged for 26 November.

“We apologise for the delay in replacing the windows and we will continue to try and rearrange for our contractors to attend at a time convenient to the resident. Our records do not show any repair reports related to the front door of the property.

“The family have been moved temporarily to a hotel where we will continue to support them until they are able to return home.”