Wolverhampton factory fire: More than 100 firefighters tackle huge blaze - PICTURES and VIDEO
A blaze at a a derelict Wolverhampton factory was continuing to burn on Thursday evening, under the control of firefighters who have been dealing with the flames for nearly 24 hours.
Flames more than 20ft high ripped through Alliance Paper and Tissue, off Wobaston Road, Fordhouses, from around 11.30pm on Wednesday, turning the night sky red and threatening to close the M54 motorway.
Around 25 firefighters remained on the scene this afternoon and crews were expected to stay at the site until Friday after flames spread through the large empty factory which, although no longer in use, still had paper and 'significant' amounts chemicals stored inside.
- UPDATE: New pictures reveal devastation as demolition experts examine scene
Reporter Jessica Labhart was at the factory on Thursday morning:
Firefighters have led me here to reveal the fire inside the building. The items inside are believed to be rolls of wallpaper #WobastonRoad pic.twitter.com/7RNaEQzUUS Jessica Labhart (@JLabhart_star) January 26, 2017
And received this update on the progress of firefighting late this afternoon:
Russ Gauden delivers an update on the next steps to take place here #WobastonRoad #fire pic.twitter.com/IaHIJ5qTAb Jessica Labhart (@JLabhart_star) January 26, 2017
It is not yet clear what caused the blaze, which swept inside the building measuring 500ft by 200ft situated next to the HS Marston Aerospace plant, leaving parts of the structure at risk of collapse.
Two hydraulic platforms were brought in to allow crews to tackle the blaze from above and stop the flames from spreading to neighbouring businesses.
The site owners, fire investigators and an asbestos adviser were all at the factory helping fire crews, who were reluctant to use water on unknown chemicals.
Instead, the masses of paper - thought to include tissue and toilet paper - were allowed to burn under the supervision of firefighters.
West Midlands Fire Service Area Commander Steve Taylor described the fire as 'intense' and said his team faced several challenges, including a damaged gas main which was burning in two places.
"The sheer size of the site was also a key consideration in our operations, as well as the need to protect a neighbouring aerospace company which was just 10 metres away," he added.
"We worked very closely throughout the night with representatives of the neighbouring firm and our partner agencies including the gas and electricity companies.
"Fortunately, the wind direction was in our favour, but we had contingency plans and resources in place in case the weather conditions changed and there was a more direct threat to the aerospace site.
"I'm pleased to say it was able to open and operate when staff arrived early this morning".
Water was pumped from the nearby Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal to quell the flames.
Smethwick firefighters were among those to attend and posted this video on social media showing the scale of the blaze.
BW in attendance at large #fire in Wolverhampton. Working hard with numerous crews to bring it under control. #wolvofire #teamwork #OneTeam pic.twitter.com/Viu26t7giZ Smethwick Fire (@Smethwickfire) January 26, 2017
Flames could be seen lighting up the night sky as the fire took hold.
People living nearby were told to keep windows and doors closed with the fire at its height.
The road was closed between the A449 Stafford Road and The Droveway, but has since reopened, while around 25 firefighters remain on the scene.
Fire crews are still at work here going up on a platform to examine the damage #WobastonRoad #fire pic.twitter.com/cagAEEhZ29 Jessica Labhart (@JLabhart_star) January 26, 2017
They also prioritised stopping water used to fight the fire flowing into the canal.
Officials from the Canal and River Trust were working with the team at the scene.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated with specialist officers working at the factory site.
Station commander Wood said the factory unit was not secure.
Power had been cut to businesses nearby during the course of the firefighting operation.
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