'It's arson': Officials believe fire at commercial building in Birmingham was started deliberately

Fire crews tackled the blaze that broke out in a commercial building in the Lozells area of Birmingham Credit: Ryan Underwood

A fire that broke out on the ground floor of a three-storey void commercial premises in Birmingham was 'arson', according to West Midlands Fire Service.

At least 10 fire engines were called to the building on Villa Road in the Lozells area shortly after 2.50pm on Thursday.

Four 4×4 brigade response vehicles, 70 firefighters and an aerial hydraulic platform attended the scene.

The building was heavily smoke-logged. The fire service says Soho Hill Road and Villa Road have been partially opened to support local communities and businesses.

70 fire crews are tackling the blaze on Villa Road. Credit: Ryan Underwood

An incident command centre has been set up at the scene to co-ordinate the operation.

West Midlands Fire Service says: "Crews wearing Breathing Apparatus (BA) have tackled the blaze at the disused commercial premise in Villa Road, Lozells.

"The fire is now out and there is minimal smoke in the surrounding area. Firefighters will remain on site to identify and extinguish hot spots."

Incident commander Martin Ward-White has confirmed the fire, which engulfed the ground and first floors of Bills House, was started deliberately.

He said: “We’ve had history here with previous fires. It’s arson.

"The unit is a substantial building. The first and second floors are derelict.

"The ground floor and basement has shops in it. The fire was located on the ground and first floor.

"There was substantial smoke logging across the first and second floor. The incident initially was ‘persons reported’ (missing) but we’ve done a preliminary search and found nobody. We are about to do a second search.”

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