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Tower block blaze tackled by dozens of firefighters

Crews from across the region worked to put out a fire started deliberately in the stairwell of a city block of flats.

The fire happened on the 10th floor of the block in Newtown. Photo: Google
The fire happened on the 10th floor of the block in Newtown. Photo: Google

More than 10 fire engines and other specialist appliances were called to the fire at James House in Newtown Drive in Birmingham around 5.40pm after being alerted to the fire by a resident.

The fire was started in a staircase on the 11th floor of the block, but was extinguished by fire fighters using hose reels.

Several residents were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation after leaving their flats and entering the lobby areas and who were led to safety by fire crews using smoke hoods.

One resident was taken to hospital for further checks for smoke inhalation, but no further injuries were reported.

West Midlands Fire Service station commander Gemma McSweeney said it was good news that no one had been hurt, but reiterated the need for people to stay put in situations like this.

She said: "The message from us is to encourage residents to get in touch with housing officers to understand the evacuation procedures in their buildings.

"In this circumstance, the residents chose to evacuate, which meant they were subsequently faced with a smoke-filled corridor.

"We would encourage them to stay put in the building and follow the stay put policies in place."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "We’re working with colleagues at West Midlands Fire to understand the cause of a fire that broke out in a Birmingham tower block this evening.

"We were alerted to the fire by a resident in James House, Newtown Drive at 5.40pm.

"Officers were sent to help with scene management and road closures so that fire and ambulance services could more easily access the property.

"Several people have been treated for smoke inhalation but it is not believed, at this stage, there have been any serious injuries.

"It's understood the fire started in a communal area or stairwell on the 10th floor. It was quickly extinguished & did not spread to any of the flats.

"We're currently on site alongside other emergency services and work has already started alongside fire investigators to understand how the fire started."

A statement from West Midlands Fire Service said: "The fire did not spread to any of the flats in the building, however smoke entered some flats on floors 10-12 when residents opened their doors. Crews wearing breathing apparatus used smoke hoods, which enable safer and swifter evacuation, to evacuate 10 residents through the smoked filled areas.

"In total 14 residents, including six children were led to safety. They were treated for smoke inhalation on scene alongside a few residents who left the building themselves.

"Fifteen residents have been placed in temporary accommodation as a precautionary measure.

"We worked closely on scene with colleagues from West Midlands Police and West Midlands Ambulance Service. The cause of the fire is suspected arson."

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