POLICE have launched an investigation as firefighters continue to tackle a huge straw fire.

More than 30 firefighters have been called to 150 tonnes of straw alight in Apton Hall Road, near Rochford.

The fire, which is about two acres in area, has been burning since about 6.20pm yesterday.

Firefighters, who expect to be on site for some time, are letting the 40-metre high stack burn down in a controlled way rather than putting it out with water, which could pollute the area.

A fire service spokesman said: “A controlled burn is taking place and crews are expected to be on site for some time yet. Two fire engines and crews are on site now monitoring that controlled burn.

“In instances like this officers assess what is likely to cause the greatest environmental damage: the smoke from a controlled burn or the water run-off which will be full of soot and ash from the fire.

“In this case it has been decided to allow the fire to burn with crews on site to ensure that it is contained and controlled.”

Crews from Southend, South Woodham Ferrers, Rochford, Rayleigh Weir and Hawkwell were called to the fire last night and two fire engines remain, managing the burn.

Anybody with any information is asked to contact DC Chris Adam at Chelmsford CID on Essex Police 101.

People can also give information to the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.