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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Firefighters battle Smethwick blaze amid devastation

Firefighters are still battling to bring the Smethwick blaze under control amid the devastation, with some standing on the remains of burnt recycled material to hose down the fire.

A firefighter can be seen battling the Smethwick blaze amid the devastation of burnt recycled materials. Credit: Rupert Evelyn/ITV News
The site is in ruins following the blaze. Credit: Rupert Evelyn/ITV News

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'Ash cloud' fills the sky after recycling plant blaze

Twitter users have taken to the social networking site, reflecting the size and extent of the fire in Smethwick:

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Smethwick blaze: Ten firefighters injured

The fire is being tackled by 200 firefighters Credit: Martin Potter

West Midlands Fire Service has confirmed 10 firefighters received treatment at the scene.A spokesman said two were taken to hospital - one with an eye injury and another with an ankle injury.Eight more were treated at the scene for minor heat-related injuries, he added.

A spokeswoman for Birmingham Airport confirmed the Smethwick blaze was not affecting flights.

She said: "Operations are continuing as normal and the fire has had no impact on any of our services."

Labour: 'Ministers must look at fire risk of sky lanterns again'

The Government has spent £25 000 on a report into sky lanterns which found they are a significant fire risk, may hamper search and rescue services, and could pose a danger to aeroplanes.

They also pose a risk to cattle that could be injured by them – yet the government has decided to do nothing. After the Smethwick fire, Ministers must look at this issue again.

– Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary

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Recycling plant boss thanks emergency services

The director of the recycling plant, which is ablaze in Smethwick, has thanked the emergency services in a statement released this afternoon.

Jayplas, based in Leicester, has described the fire as a 'tragic accident'.

Firstly, Jayplas would like to thank the emergency services for their speedy response in dealing with this incident in a thoroughly professional manner.

I'd also like to thank our staff on site for raising the alarm as soon as they were aware of the fire which allowed the fire brigade to act quickly and reduce the severity of the incident.

Speaking with the Fire Investigation Officer, it looks likely the fire was caused by a Chinese lantern on site. This was a tragic accident of which we had no control.

We would like to apologise to all of our neighbours for any disruption caused by this incident and hope to see things back to normal as quickly as possible.

Jayplas will do everything we can to assist the emergency services and the Environment Agency to ensure the site and surrounding areas are made safe and cleaned up as quickly as possible with minimum impact to the local environment. We hope to have the site up and running as soon as possible.

– Director of Jayplas

Accident prevention society offers advice on Chinese lanterns

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has sent its guidelines when using Chinese lanterns to ITV News Central amidst the Smethwick blaze, which was set alight by a stray lantern.

RoSPA's advice:

  • Do not launch a lantern if any part of it is damaged
  • Follow operating instructions very carefully and have a fire extinguisher or water nearby
  • A lantern is not suitable for children under 16 and is not a toy – it should be launched by two adults
  • Do not launch under the influence of alcohol
  • A lantern should not be launched if winds are 5mph or more
  • Do not launch within 5 miles of any airfield, airport or near the coast where lanterns may be interpreted as a distress signal
  • Do not use near built-up areas, roads, crops, hay bales, trees or power lines.

John Spellar, MP for Warley, has called on the government to look into banning the lanterns.

MP calls for Chinese lantern ban following Smethwick blaze

Warley MP John Spellar Credit: PA

A West Midlands MP is calling on the government to look into having Chinese lanterns banned, just hours after it was confirmed that one caused the major fire in Smethwick.

The MP for Warley, John Spellar, said: "I congratulate the West Midlands Fire Service on a first class job in containing this fire.

"I am concerned at reports that this fire was started by a Chinese lantern. I have put a question to the Local Government Minister, Eric Pickles, asking him to consider banning the use of Chinese lanterns.

"I think following this fire and one recently down in Wyre Forest, there are serious questions as to how much stock recycling companies should have together on one site.”

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