Firefighters battled a blaze in a field close to the A12 this afternoon.

Control operators received 103 calls in the space of 16 minutes from passers by and members of the public.

The fire was close to junction 22 (Witham north) on the southbound carriageway.

Two crews from Chelmsford and one from Colchester rushed to the scene.

They arrived at 2.24pm and managed to extinguish the 30-square-metre blaze.

The fire service says both accidental and deliberate causes are possibilities.

Nick Singleton, watch manager at Chelmsford fire station, said: "While we can't be certain exactly what caused this fire, it's possible that it was started by a cigarette being carelessly discarded by a driver.

"It's incredibly dangerous to throw smoking materials out of a moving car window - particularly at this time of year, where the fields around roads like the A12 are so dry.

"Please make sure your cigarettes are properly extinguished before you dispose of them - and use an ash tray or appropriate bin when you do so. This fire created a lot of smoke which could easily have made the conditions on this road very unsafe for other road users."