This story hailing how a community pulled together to help the victims of a fire was making our headlines five years ago this week.

An “absolutely amazing” community spirit has been praised after a devastating fire left three people homeless.

Flames so hot they melted parts of an attending fire engine spread between three mobile homes in the Elms in Lippitts Hill, High Beach, on February 22.

The blaze, which started before 7.30am, has left a couple and an elderly man homeless.

Anita Mitchley, secretary of the Elms Residents Association, said: “All they have got is the clothes they are standing up in.

“They have got nothing else – car keys got dissolved, hearing aids, glasses, prescription medicines, everything is all gone.

“They have literally got the clothes they are wearing, and even those are borrowed because they came out in pyjamas.”

A witness described seeing “massive flames and smoke” as six fire service crews from across Epping Forest and east London tackled the blaze in the park, for people aged 50 and older.

Ms Mitchley said: “It was all pretty scary for a while.

“Things were exploding all over the place.

“There were a couple of gas tanks, one of the men had a collection of whisky which was exploding.”

She said that trees “went up like paper” and described how the heat melted parts of a fire engine.

One man was a ‘hero’, she said, for dragging a neighbour from his burning home after he refused to leave.

The saviour then had to whisk off the man’s burning trousers.

Ms Mitchley praised her neighbours for their reaction after the fire, saying: “The community spirit is amazing, absolutely amazing.

“Everyone’s doors were open, coming out with clothes, drinks.

“We sorted out the insurance, sorted out car keys, glasses.

“Everyone pulled together.”

Fire crews worked at the scene for hours, using five main jets and two hose reel jets to extinguish the flames by 11.32am.

One of the victims was treated by an ambulance crew for burns.

The cause of the fire has not yet been confirmed.