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Couple 'incredibly lucky' e-cigarette fire wasn't worse

Allen Cook

BBC News

A couple who ended up in hospital after a fire started by a charging e-cigarette said they were "incredibly lucky" it wasn't worse.

Damaged carpet after fire
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

Jennifer Brown, 35, and Scot Washington, 34, were at home on Barthomley Crescent, Crewe, on the morning of Friday 31 July when they heard a popping noise from an upstairs bedroom, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said.

When Mr Washington opened the bedroom door, smoke flooded out and they put the blaze out with nearby bottles of water after their children got out of the house.

The fire service said the pair felt they were lucky only to need hospital treatment after breathing in smoke.

Miss Brown said: "I shudder to think what would have happened had the e-cigarette been put on charge at night when we were all asleep."

The couple with their children
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

Coronavirus: How many cases are there in your area?

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Sandwell has fallen, according to new figures.

A test sample is held at a COVID-19 testing centre

The borough was named as an area of concern by Public Health England last month after a rise in cases.

But data from Public Health England shows there were 66 new cases in the week up to 31 July. Figures for the seven days to 24 July showed 96 cases.

That means 20.2 people tested positive for every for every 100,000 population (up to 31 July), down from 29.3 a week earlier.

Here are the rate of infections (per 100,000 people) for all local authorities in the West Midlands - for the seven days up to 31 July, compared with the previous week.

  • Birmingham down to 12.7 from from 13.4
  • Bromsgrove down to 6.1 from 7.1
  • Cheshire East up to 6.6 from 1.3
  • Coventry up to 14.7 from 8.7
  • Dudley up to 4.7 from 3.4
  • East Staffordshire up to 9.3 from 8.4
  • Herefordshire remains at 5.7
  • Lichfield up to 6.7 from 2.9
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme up to 7.0 from 3.1
  • North Warwickshire is down to 6.2 from 9.3
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth up to 17.8 from 8.5
  • Redditch remains at 1.2
  • Rugby up to 6.5 from 1.9
  • Sandwell down to 20.2 from 29.3
  • Shropshire up to 6.2 from 5.0
  • Solihull up to 7.0 from 4.2
  • South Staffordshire down to 3.6 from 6.2
  • Staffordshire Moorlands up to 6.1 from 1.0
  • Stoke-on-Trent down to 3.1 from 4.3
  • Stratford-on-Avon up to 3.1 from 0.8
  • Tamworth up to 2.6 from 1.3
  • Telford and Wrekin remains at 3.9
  • Walsall remains at 8.1
  • Warwick remains at 4.2
  • Wolverhampton up to 16.8 from 14.5
  • Worcester down to 3.9 from 7.9
  • Wychavon down to 4.7 from 7.9

Attempted murder arrest after man found badly hurt

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

A man's been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after police found another man with "horrific" head injuries in a flat.

Arnold Street

They made the discovery on Sunday evening in Arnold Street, Nantwich, Cheshire.

The victim is in a critical but stable condition in hospital, police said.

The 42-year-old man they arrested remains in custody.

Crewe Alexandra boss 'thrilled' at award

BBC Radio Stoke Sport

Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell says he is "thrilled to bits" to be named League Two manager of the year.

David Artell with the award
Crewe Alexandra FC

The award from the League Managers' Association comes after he guided the Alex to promotion to League One.

On the back of relegation from League One in May 2016, Crewe were 18th in League Two when Artell was appointed in January 2017.

Artell says the award is down to his players: "It's a team effort and I'm just the recipient of that well functioning team if you like or a figurehead of that team."

Spain quarantine: 'We thought it would be a safe bet'

BBC Radio Stoke

The new quarantine on people returning to the UK from Spain won't put off one man from taking his holiday this week.

People on a beach in Spain

Ryan Thompson, from Congleton, Cheshire, told BBC Radio Stoke he was happy to fly to Majorca tomorrow and then self-isolate for two weeks when he returns.

As he works from home, Mr Thompson said the quarantine wouldn't be an issue, but he hadn't thought all this would happen when he booked the holiday a couple of weeks ago.

"We thought we'd book as a late holiday, as we thought how much could really change in two weeks, so we thought it would be a safe bet - but here we are."

Hay bales left to burn out at huge barn fire

Allen Cook

BBC News

Dozens of firefighters have spent the morning battling a large barn fire involving 50 tonnes of straw.

Firefighters next to fire
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

Six fire engines were called to the farm on Radway Green Road, Barthomley, near Alsager, just before 09:00, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service said.

It said the animals inside the barn were believed to have been moved to a safe place.

By lunchtime, the crews were allowing some remaining hay bales to burn out under supervision and had reduced a plume of smoke from the blaze "considerably".

The flames inside the barn
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

Coronavirus: How many cases are there in your area?

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Sandwell has risen again, according to new figures.

The data from Public Health England shows there were 86 new cases in the week up to 20 July. Figures for the seven days to 19 July showed 76 cases.

That means 26.3 people tested positive for every for every 100,000 population (up to 20 July), up from 12.2 a week earlier.

Dr Lisa McNally, the Director of Public Health for Sandwell, said on Monday it hadn't yet reached the stage where a local lockdown was needed, but she was monitoring the rise.

Infection rate slide

Here are the rate of infections (per 100,000 people) for all local authorities in the West Midlands - for the seven days up to 20 July, compared with the previous week.

  • Birmingham up to 12.9 from from 7.0
  • Bromsgrove up to 5.1 from 4.1
  • Cheshire East down to 3.9 from 4.2
  • Coventry up to 7.4 from 2.5
  • Dudley down to 0.9 from 2.2
  • East Staffordshire down to 15.2 from 29.5
  • Herefordshire down to 16.1 from 43.7
  • Lichfield up to 4.8 from 3.8
  • Newcastle-under-Lyme down to 2.3 from 5.4
  • North Warwickshire is up to 9.3 from 1.5
  • Nuneaton and Bedworth up to 10.9 from 10.1
  • Redditch up to 3.5 from 0.0
  • Rugby down to 3.7 from 10.3
  • Sandwell up to 26.3 from 12.1
  • Shropshire down to 0.9 from 3.4
  • Solihull down to 5.1 from 7.9
  • South Staffordshire stays the same at 2.7
  • Staffordshire Moorlands down to 0.0 from 4.1
  • Stoke-on-Trent down to 2.7 from 9.0
  • Stratford-on-Avon down to 0.0 from 5.5
  • Tamworth down to 2.6 from 3.9
  • Telford and Wrekin stays the same at 7.3
  • Walsall down to 8.8 from 11.3
  • Warwick up to 2.1 from 1.4
  • Wolverhampton up to 5.7 from 4.2
  • Worcester up to 4.9 from 2.9
  • Wychavon down from 1.6 from 4.7

Work starts on £2m leisure improvements

BBC Radio Stoke

A sports centre and playing fields are being given a makeover ahead of reopening, as part of a £2m investment in a town’s leisure facilities.

Fencing around Barony Park
Cheshire East Council

Cheshire East Council says Barony Park Sports Complex, Nantwich, is due to reopen for gym and group exercise classes from 1 August and an outdoor gym is also planned.

Wooden fencing is being installed as the first phase of the works, which also include plans for more trees, wildflower meadows and an outdoor "classroom" to study nature.

Motorway reopens but lorry fire still burning

The M6 in Cheshire has now reopened but there's delays of up to an hour after it was closed in both directions earlier this afternoon due to a lorry fire.

Fire engine

A lorry carrying propane gas tanks is said to be well alight on the hard shoulder of the northbounmd carriageway between junctions 19 and 20.

Five fire crews are at the scene tackling the flames.

Pregnant woman attacked after confronting litterer

Allen Cook

BBC News

A heavily pregnant woman and a man have been attacked after confronting a stranger over dropping litter.

Crewe Road, Alsager

The pair were outside a takeaway on Crewe Road, Alsager, on Sunday night when the man assaulted them, Cheshire Police said.

He punched the woman in the head and then punched her in the stomach after she told him she was pregnant.

Officers said the man walked off towards the town centre after the attack.

The male victim suffered a serious injury to his face while the woman had minor injuries and both have since been discharged from hospital.

No glass ketchup bottles or live music - changes for pubs

Phil McCann

Cheshire Political Reporter, BBC News

No glass ketchup bottles, "one in, one out" at the toilets and no live music - it will be all change for people going to one local pub in Crewe tomorrow.

Eight Farmers outside

Inside the Eight Farmers pub, customers will only be allowed to sit with one other household, although outside they can be with up to six people from any number of "bubbles".

But if it rains, you won't be able to just run inside.

Inside Eight Farmers

People will also have to text or scan a code to let the Eight Farmers have their details in case of contact tracing.

Despite all the changes, licensee Lisa Hamlett is still looking forward to being back in business.

"It'll be great for everyone to come back. Pubs aren't just somewhere for people to go and have a great time and drink, we're like a community thing so there's a lot of the elderly people that have not seen anyone for three months."

Café Rouge and Belgo owner falls into administration

BBC Business News

Branches of the restaurant chains Café Rouge and Belgo will close across the West Midlands after it was announced the company which owns the brands has gone into administration.

Cafe Rouge

Owner Casual Dining Group plans to close 91 outlets immediately, and 1,900 of the firm's 6,000 staff will lose their jobs.

Cafe Rouge branches set to close include Solihull, Harborne in Birmingham, Leamington Spa and the Birmingham Mailbox restaurant.

Belgo will close in Solihull and Crewe.

Restaurants in the UK were struggling even before the pandemic, but their revenues collapsed when the UK went into lockdown in March.

Restrictions will be eased from Saturday, but demand is likely to remain depressed for some time and some chains have already acknowledged the severity of the impact.

Jobs under threat at pie maker Wrights

Sophie Calvert

BBC Radio Stoke

Up to 80 jobs could be cut at a pie manufacturer in Crewe, due to the impact of coronavirus on many of its customers' businesses.

Wrights factory in Crewe

Wrights started in 1926 making pies but now supplies savoury goods and other products to businesses such as restaurants and bakers.

But the family-owned firm said some of its clients in airline catering and hospitality had either closed or weren't working at full capacity due to the impact of coronavirus.

It added that it was trying to avoid compulsory redundancies and had started a 30-day consultation.

Second huge oxygen tank starts journey across counties

Allen Cook

BBC News

A huge oxygen cylinder has begun a long and slow journey across three counties which is expected to take until the weekend.

One of the cylinders, probably the one from last week, with crowds turning out
Staffordshire Police

It is the second time one of the tanks, which measure 49 metres long and weigh 225 tonnes, has been driven from Cheshire to Warwickshire this month.

On the last journey it became a bit of a star, drawing crowds along the route and being photographed repeatedly on social media.

This second cylinder left Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, on Saturday and is expected to cross into Staffordshire this afternoon.

Drivers have been warned to expect long queues along the route as it will travel at just 5mph.

Covid-19 forces worm charming championship to go virtual

Allen Cook

BBC News

The World Worm Charming Championships are taking place this weekend, but organisers say they've had to make changes due to coronavirus.

People looking for worms
People at a previous World Worm Charming Championship

The event's been held annually since 1980 in the village of Willaston, near Nantwich, Cheshire.

Usually competitors each take a 3x3m plot of land and try to lure the worms above ground using only vibrations.

But, due to social distancing restrictions, competitors will instead take part on Saturday afternoon from their own gardens via the video conferencing platform Zoom.

Dozens have signed up, including from homes in Preston, Croydon and Sheffield and they will have 30 minutes from 14:00 to charm as many worms before counting them afterwards to find the winner.