Fire breaks out in former Black Country bingo hall
[gallery] Seventy-five firefighters were called out to tackle a blaze following a suspected arson attack at a disused bingo hall today.
Fire broke out at the former Walkers Bingo Club in Walsall Street, Wednesbury from around 2.10am.
The fire destroyed a stage area on the ground floor of the three-storey building and caused smoke damage.
No one was inside at the time.
Two fire engines remained at the scene this morning as crews worked to cut away burnt areas of flooring.
Group commander Mick Birch said a door had been left open when crews arrived, leading them to suspect arson.
He said: "The actual extent of the damage to the building is quite minimal.
"The incident has involved a small fire on the ground floor to the rear of the property, involving flooring and a stage area.
"There is about a 30 square metre area of carpet and timber flooring burnt through, which has created quite a lot of smoke damage.
"We have had 75 firefighters tackling the fire, assisted by ambulance and police and utilities.
"The fire was quickly extinguished and the building was searched for any homeless or vagrants.
"There wasn't anyone in the building and it is void, for sale.
"The incident is being treated as suspected arson and investigations are ongoing with police."
At the height of the blaze 10 fire trucks were at the scene from across the West Midlands.
A police car and an ambulance also remained at the scene, along with National Grid Gas workers, who capped the gas supply as a precaution.
Mr Birch praised the efforts of those who tackled the blaze, saying: "It was a good effort all round by everybody."
The building – which has also previously been used as a cinema and is advertised for sale online at £425,000 – is considered structurally safe.
The Wetherspoon pub across the road, The Bellwether, served hot drinks to those involved in the efforts when it opened.
Shift manager Kieran Denholn said: "I just turned up at 4.45am to get ready to open and they were all stood outside so I felt sorry for them all cold and wet.
"They were very grateful."