A blaze which broke out dangerously close to a gas main left a car body repairs firm’s base in Willenhall severely damaged.
Firefighters were called out to the industrial unit late last night.
It is believed the fire started in rubbish in an oil drum near an outside gas main at an industrial park in Stringes Lane spreading to part of Triton Garage. Gas engineers were on the site two-and-a-half hours later to dig up the road and turn off the supply. The fire was spotted by police officers driving past the building at 11.30pm. There was no-one in the burning unit.
Simon Bebbington, crew manager at Willenhall fire station, said: “We’re not currently sure of the cause and will be looking into it further today.
“The gas main was very badly damaged so we need to establish whether the fire was caused by the rubbish fire left outside in an empty oil drum or whether someone did something maliciously to the main.
“It is dangerous leaving any garden or waste fires unattended.”
Firefighters remained at the scene until around 3.30am making sure the area was safe.
Paul Hinton, aged 60, owner of PD Auto Services in a neighbouring unit to the blaze, said: “I got here at 9am today and we couldn’t gain access to the building because the fire service had to break open the front gate to gain access to the fire.
“We haven’t had any power all day. Both the gas and the electric is off. It could have been a lot worse.
“It’s definitely lucky not to spread to the neighbouring unit.
“If it had we could have had the biggest fire ever in Willenhall.”
Mr Hinton, who has been in business for 20 years, added: “It’s the first time I’ve ever known anything like this.”
Willenhall South Councillor Carl Creaney said today: “This is not good news. I heard about what happened this morning.
“The sooner the business gets back on its feet, the better.
“There has been problems around that area before with anti-social behaviour and buildings being broken into.”