A FIRE engine sent to the scene of a beach hut blaze was only able to travel at 5mph after encountering technical problems.

The incident destroyed 12 beach huts on The Esplanade in Frinton after a gas canister exploded on August 10.

Firefighters battled the fire for nearly two hours, but strong 50mph winds made their job more difficult.

It has now been revealed the fire engine sent from Frinton suffered a technical fault and could only drive at a reduced speed.

The Frinton engine was able to get to the scene and crews from Weeley and Clacton were called to assist.

The town has just one engine after a decision was taken to axe the second in a cost-cutting measure last year.

Councillors said the incident calls into question the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s decision to reduce the number for fire engines based in Frinton from two to one.

Speaking at a meeting of Frinton and Walton Town Council, ward councillor Nick Turner said: “Once the fire service arrived, they did their job well, as we, the public, expect and applaud.

“But the Frinton fire engine, a new machine with less than 2,000 miles on the clock, broke down – it was limping at 5mph.

“By removing our second tender we have removed a back-up and, what is more frightening, the ability to get to a major fire quickly.

“For the sake of £32,000, beach huts have been lost and the knock on of a loss of a prized possession to a family is great.”

The decision to axe one of the fire engines was opposed by town and district councillors.

A spokesman for Essex Fire Service said: “The fire engine from Frinton had a technical issue en route, which meant that it could only drive at a reduced speed.

“An additional fire engine was requested immediately, but the Frinton fire engine was still able to proceed to the incident.

“The crew were swiftly joined by the second fire engine, which arrived within two minutes of their arrival.

“The only factors which had an impact on this incident was the extremely strong winds, plus the number of gas cylinders in the beach huts.”