Langley Green distillery fire chemical link

About 200 homes were evacuated as the fire ripped through the building

Related Stories

A massive fire at a distillery in the Black County was probably caused by a combination of chemicals being mixed, fire investigators say.

At the height of the blaze on Monday, more than 100 firefighters were tackling flames at Alcohols Ltd, in Crosswells Road, Langley Green.

About 200 homes were evacuated as the fire ripped through the building.

The fire has now been extinguished and many residents in the area have been allowed back home.

A man in his 20s was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham suffering from burns on 20% of his body.

At the scene

Cordon at Creswells Road

After dozens of firefighters descended on the area on Monday, it was a much quieter scene the following morning.

Debris could be seen strewn in the road and few people were out in the streets near the cordon in Tuesday's chilly conditions.

Some families were returning to their properties while others faced an anxious wait to see how long they would be away from home, after houses and cars were damaged by heat.

One of those people, father-of-five Arif Hussain, 44, said two of his daughters were "shaking" as the blaze took hold. He rents a house on Crosswells Road opposite the site and had to sleep in a hotel overnight.

Windows on some homes were damaged and structural engineers have been surveying the damage.

The fire also affected local business - workers at Express Bonding, which makes tables for schools and wall panels for stores, were away from their Western Road site for most of Monday.

West Midlands Police said he was in a stable condition.

A 100m cordon was lifted, although a reduced cordon remained in place affecting around 20 properties in the Crosswells Road and Hall Street area, the force said.

Dozens of residents who spent the night in temporary accommodation have been allowed back to their houses.

Father-of-two Hardip Singh, 41, had to go to a friend's house after being evacuated from his home in Vicarage Street when the fire started on Monday morning.

Asked about his house, he said: "It's all right, it's fine.

"There's no electricity but I've been given a special number to call and find out when it will be back to normal."

'Windows smashed'

Darren O'Neil said his house, which backs on to the distillery, had "a lucky escape".

He said: "I'm just relieved there's no damage, it obviously could've been a lot worse than it was.

"If you look at the houses on Hall Street it looks like the windows have been cracked and smashed, but it seems like the fire has stayed on the other side of the estate.

"We've still got no gas or electric and the house is freezing," he added.

Mother-of-two Mai Rutherford, said her family stayed with friends, after initially going to nearby Moat Farm Junior school, which was set up as a refuge centre by Sandwell council.

"They took care of us down there, we had people come out and give us food and made sure that people without family had somewhere to stay," she said.

"We're just grateful that it wasn't worse and that nobody was killed."

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) said all fires at the scene had been extinguished but five firefighters were still at the site "keeping a watching brief".

More than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Black Country distillery on Monday

It said the exact cause of the fire was still being looked into by its investigation team, but it believed it had started when chemicals were transferred from large tanks outside the main building to smaller drums.

A structural engineer was assessing whether the building needed to be demolished, the service said.

Mal Fellowes from WMFS said: "It was a three storey building and all the floors have actually burned through so structurally it is unsafe.

"Until we get that advice from a building engineer we can't completely open all the roads."

Managing director of Alcohols Ltd, Adam Wallis, said the firm was "indebted to the swift response of the emergency services."

He said: "Our thoughts are very much with all the residents who have been displaced by the fire and we are focused on working with the emergency services and council to ensure that the site is safe, power can be restored and people can return to their houses."

He said the company was also supporting the injured man and his family.

Trains were suspended for several hours on Monday along a line which runs close to the distillery, but services have been running normally since Tuesday morning.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Birmingham & Black Country

Weather

Birmingham

18 °C 11 °C

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FilmsOnes to watch

    BBC Culture picks nine top films coming out next month

Programmes

  • A computer simulation showing a planned station upgrade in Hong KongClick Watch

    Simulated world - how architects are using virtual and augmented reality to transform our cities

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.