Smethwick fire explained

Firefighters are advising recycling plants on how to store rubbish to prevent fires. It comes just two weeks after the biggest fire the West Midlands has ever seen. A Chinese lantern landed on thousands of tonnes of rubbish at a centre in Smethwick.

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Chair of West Midlands Fire Authority 'sick' of government cutbacks

The Chair of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority has attacked the Government over financial cutbacks, in the wake of the largest fire in the history of the service.

The incident, which started late on Sunday night in Smethwick, needed 200 firefighters and over 40 fire engines and aerial ladders to bring it under control.

The crews who dealt with this huge fire displayed courage, skill and determination. They gave everything they had, and the staff who supported them were superb.

That said, we were stretched to breaking point by the extraordinary demands placed on our shrinking resources. At one point, only one fire engine was free to cover the rest of the West Midlands – and we still have yet more Government cuts to implement over the next three years.

I’m sick of hearing Government ministers telling us we can achieve cuts of this magnitude, without any impact on front line services. The truth is: we can’t. We know it, they know it.

– Councillor John Edwards, a former firefighter himself

Government to hold talks on Chinese lanterns

Talks are to be held on Chinese lanterns after Labour questioned if "absolutely nothing" was being done by the Government following a recycling plant blaze in Smethwick.

Smoke rises 6,000ft into the sky over the Birmingham skyline Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Fire Services believe a lantern floating above the Jayplas facility sparked a fire which ripped through 100,000 plastic bales and causing £6 million of damage.

Environment minister David Heath told the Commons that further talks are planned with the Department for Communities and Local Government to see what action can be taken.


Country Land Association calls for lantern ban

The Country Land Association has called for a ban on skylanterns, or Chinese lanterns, to cut the risk of livestock deaths and fires.

Earlier this week a major fire at a factory in Smethwick led to the destruction of 50,000 tonnes of recycling material, West Midlands Fire Service believe a Chinese lantern could have been the cause. CLA President Harry Cotterell said:

The concept of launching a flaming bonfire into the night sky with absolutely no idea of where it will land has always seemed reckless and bizarre. It is clear that skylanterns represent a wholly unnecessary risk to property, woodland, crops, moorland and livestock. Many millions of pounds of damage has been caused by fires started by skylanterns. Worse still, 11 firefighters were hurt by the recent blaze at a Midland plastics recycling plant which was ignited by a skylantern.

Even when skylanterns don't start fires, we have had reports from our members that cattle have died after ingesting the metal frames. Cows have been put down as a result. There is no doubt that a ban is in the public interest.

Firefighters remain at Smethwick blaze

Fire crews dampening down area where fire may be burning beneath the surface Credit: ITV News Central

Firefighters remain at the recycling plant in Smethwick, where crews have been controlling a blaze for more than 54 hours.

The fire, which destroyed 100,000 tonnes of plastic, was started when a drifting Chinese lantern landed in the yard.

Some MPs from the Midlands are calling on tougher regulations to limit damage caused by Chinese lantern.


Prime Minister praises work of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has passed onto West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service the Prime Minister's praise for the fire fighters still on the scene of a factory fire in Smethwick.

Fire service releases CCTV footage of Chinese lantern

West Midlands Fire Service has released CCTV footage of the Chinese lantern which they believe caused a major recycling plant fire in Smethwick yesterday.

The Chinese lantern appears in the top middle part of the photograph Credit: West Midlands Fire Service

The video, which was released on the Fire Service's website, shows the lantern approaching the recycling material at the site.

The lantern can be seen appearing in the top right corner Credit: West Midlands Fire Service
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