Largest blaze in West Midlands for years as recycling factory catches fire

According to BBC News, firefighters tackling a blaze on July 1 involving 100,000 tonnes of plastic recycling material at a factory unit in Smethwick say it is the largest fire seen in the West Midlands in recent years. Eyewitnesses said there were a number of large explosions and loud bangs before the fire took hold.

The fire service said 200 firefighters were at the scene in Smethwick, and three of them have been taken to hospital. An ambulance service spokesman said they had treated “nine patients for injuries received at the scene”.

A huge smoke cloud rose from the fire at the Jayplas depot in Dartmouth Road and was visible for miles. Birmingham International Airport was alerted because the plume of smoke rising 6,000ft into the air could have affected flights.

The incident is on an industrial estate, but the closest residents are being advised to keep windows closed. A local school has also been closed.

Vij Randeniya, chief fire officer at West Midlands Fire Service, told Sky News: “We believe a Chinese lantern dropped onto some bales of plastic and, looking at CCTV, it would appear that was the cause.

“Chinese lanterns have been involved in a number of incidents and firefighters have been campaigning for there to be better controls.

Mr Randeniya said intense heat was being released from the burning plastic. “These are difficult fires to extinguish and we anticipate being here for a number of days,” he said.