AN ex-firefighter has slammed the decision to turn off the town’ street lights claiming it left officers dealing with the blaze hamstrung.

Thomas Johnson, of Brooklyn Road, was in the fire service for 12 years and called the brigade after seeing two cars on fire outside his home at just after 1am on Monday morning.

“They were definitely hampered by the lack of illumination in the area,” he said.

“At one point the officers were struggling to find the fire hydrant through no fault of their own and one of them almost tripped over his own hose.

“Then they had trouble passing through the narrow part of the road at the bottom because there are no lights on.

“They have headtorches and things but that is not enough.

“I know from my time in the service if you come out from a brightly lit cab to the pitch black darkness it can take between 15 and 20 minutes before your eyes adjust.

“These people are heroes getting out of their beds in the middle of the night trying to save the lives of others and should be helped as much as possible with their job.

“It could have been tragic.”