Cars destroyed, homes damaged, lamp posts melted and a landmark family-run firm reduced to charred rubble – these pictures show the devastation left by the inferno that ripped through an alcohol factory.
Residents forced to flee their homes when the Oldbury factory burst into flames were today assessing the damage after being allowed to return and have spoken of their horror in the aftermath of the blaze.
The row of houses worst affected by the inferno is opposite the Alcohols Ltd factory on the corner of Hall Street Crosswells Road, Langley.
Cars which had been on driveways melted because of the intense heat of the blaze, Wheelie bins and flower pots met the same fate. Windows have cracked or blown out, and their frames melted, with front doors scorched by the heat.
Engineers from Trident Housing Association have been out at the scene to assess the extent of the damage.
Stephen’s Rushton’s house was the worst affected by the blaze.
The 26-year-old warehouse worker said: “It is devastating to see it like this. I was so shocked, I just did not know what to expect. It seems though it is the exterior which has had the most damage. Inside it is not too bad, just quite a lot of glass.”
He added: “My brother is disabled and has a specially adapted room, and so we will have to make sure that is sorted before he can move back. We have just come back to collect a few things and assess the damage. We just don’t really know what to do.”
Val Blakemore, aged 61, also returned to her house on Hall Street to find the back window of her car which had been on her drive blown, and bumper melted. Some of the windows in her house have also blown out due to the force of the blaze and her front door scorched by the heat.
Mrs Blakemore, who will now go and stay with her daughter while the damage to her home is repaired, said: “I was terrified about what I would find.
“Luckily it is not as bad as I thought. I thought I would have no home to go to. Inside is not too bad, just glass to clean up, and I couldn’t smell any smoke. It just seems to be the outside, and my poor car.”
But, speaking of the moment the factory went up in flames, she added: “I was so terrified, I never want to experience anything like that again.”
Jayne Wilkinson, aged 44, returned to her home to find the back of her red Chevrolet Spark car melted, and the windows in her house cracked.
Supermarket worker Mrs Wilkinson, who is also a Tividale ward councillor has, unlike many of her neighbours, decided to stay in her home with her husband Anthony and teenage daughter. She said: “I just feel much better being here. I have been told it is structurally safe.”
The fire is believed to have started when chemicals were being moved from large tanks into smaller barrels. One worker was injured in the drama and was today still receiving treatment for burns at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Bosses at Alcohols Limited have spoken for the first time since the blaze. Adam Wallis, managing director, said: “We are indebted to the swift response of the emergency services for getting the fire under control. At this stage our thoughts are very much with all the residents who have been displaced. We have one employee who was injured in the accident and is being treated for burns. Again, we are doing all we can to support him and his family at this time.”
A helpline number for residents is available on 0121 569 5152.