Westcliff gas main fire: Man charged with arson
A man has been charged after gas main supplying a Tesco store and a block of flats was set alight.
An area around London Road in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, was evacuated early on Monday by emergency services.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said the incident, and another fire in a block of flats a few hours before, "could have had deadly consequences".
A 26-year-old man of no fixed address has been charged with arson with intent to endanger life.
He is due to appear before Southend Magistrates' Court later.
A block of 16 flats, Socata House, was evacuated on Sunday night, because of a fire in a car port underneath the building.
A 70-year-old man, who lives in one of the flats, was treated for shock.
Martyn Hodder from Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said: "The fire was being fuelled by escaping gas from the damaged supply pipes and threatened to spread to occupied flats above."
A few hours later, a second fire was set on a gas main in the stairwell of another block of flats, which also supplies a Tesco Express store.
Mr Hodder said the blaze "could have had deadly consequences" as the stairs were the only means of escape for the 15 flats.