A stray flare may have been to blame for a field fire.

Crops were set alight in a field behind houses in Mayland Close, Mayland, on Saturday afternoon.

Firefighters from Burnham and South Woodham Ferrers, helped by the farm owner, tackled the blaze from 3.20pm to just after 4pm.

Eye witness David Gregson, 65, of Mayland Close, said: “My son and my son-in-law saw a flare explode over the field and set fire to the hay that had just been cut.

“We phoned the emergency services and they sent fire engines.”

The fire service believes the fire was triggered by a stray flare let off nearby.

An RNLI lifeboat crew had also had investigated reports of a white flare seen near Maylandsea at 3.20pm but found nothing untoward.

Mr Gregson said: “The wind was blowing away from the housing, I was more concerned about the farmer who had treated the field all year and all his hay was going up in smoke."