RESIDENTS say they are living in fear following a “frightening” flat fire which police believe was started deliberately.

Essex firefighters and police officers were called to a fire at a communal block of flats in Old Road, Clacton, shortly before 3am last Tuesday.

Following an investigation, police said they believed the blaze was started on purpose and it is now being treated as arson.

Details of the incident have only just been released.

One 48-year-old man and his 27-year-old neighbour live in flats either side of where the fire was started in a narrow corridor.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Speaking anonymously, he said: “I was asleep, and I heard the alarm go off and my neighbour was shouting for help, so I touched the handle to make sure it was not hot and then opened the door.

“The rug was completely alight, so I went and got a bucket of water and he did the same and we just chucked it all on the fire to put it out.

“We called the fire brigade and they turned up, and the police and a forensics team did as well.

“It was scary, of course, and it was pretty frightening.

“There is not much visible damage left now because we have painted over it all.”

Since the fire, Tendring Council, which runs the communal block, has installed a lock on the main door which provides access to the pair’s flats.

But Clive Upton, 62, who has lived in the complex for ten years, says he continues to feel unsafe and the latest incident has only served to heighten his fears.

He said: “It is worrying we are living where people can commit these crimes and it is not the first time we have had arson here.

“I keep myself to myself and keep my curtains closed because I feel like I am living in a prison because of all the things which go on around here.

“We have had people dealing drugs and stabbings and I feel unsafe and I think the council could be doing more.

He added: “It has definitely got worse since I moved in here and we feel forgotten and neglected.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

A Tendring Council spokesman said the safety and security of residents in its properties was very important.

“We would encourage residents to continue to report crime and anti-social behaviour to the police or council so these issues can be picked up,” he added.

“Communal areas should be kept clear to further reduce the risk of such offences taking place.

“Arson of someone’s home is a despicable crime, and anyone with information about this should contact police on 101.”