House fire that left cars destroyed and area a blackened mess being treated as arson

A fire which destroyed two cars and left a scene of devastation at a Black Country home may have been started deliberately.

A still frame from a video of the blaze, courtesy of Bethany Moore.
A still frame from a video of the blaze, courtesy of Bethany Moore.

The fire at a house on Wolverhampton Road in Kingswinford is believed to have started at around 3.45pm on Sunday afternoon.

It left two cars completely destroyed and the grass and trees around the house a blackened mess.

West Midlands Police has said it is treating the fire, which is believed to have started on bushes at the back of the house, as a suspected arson attack.

The grass was left blackened and ruined by the fire

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "A house was severely damaged by fire following what we suspect was an arson attack at a house in Kingswinford yesterday.

"It happened in Wolverhampton Road at around 4pm; we're liaising with fire service colleagues and we believe the fire started after a garden fence was deliberately set alight.

"Fortunately no-one was in the house at the time and no-one was injured. Neighbouring homes were evacuated as a precaution until the fire was brought under control and there was no danger to other properties.

"If anyone saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area at the time or has information that could potentially help us then please get in touch.

"Please call us on 101 or message on Live Chat through our website, quoting log 2392 from 14/8."

A West Midlands Fire Service said: “At 4.07pm on Sunday 14 August, West Midlands Fire Service received a number of calls about a severe house fire on Wolverhampton Road, Kingswinford.

“We attended the incident in under five minutes from the first call, with crews from Brierley Hill, Dudley and Wolverhampton Fire Stations using hose reel jets and breathing apparatus to control and extinguish the fire."

"Residents from nearby properties were evacuated as a precaution as the fire had spread to nearby cars and trees," the statement continued.

"We worked with colleagues from West Midlands Police to close the road so we could safely manage the incident, and West Midlands Ambulance Service were in attendance as a precautionary measure.

“By 5pm good progress had been made, with crews remaining in attendance to damp down and dig out the property, revisiting the property throughout the night to check for hot spots. All persons were accounted for and we thank local residents and the public for their cooperation as we dealt with this incident.

“Working with colleagues from West Midlands Police, we believe the cause of the fire to be arson. If anyone saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area at the time or has information that could potentially help the Police, please call 101 or message the Police on Live Chat through our website, quoting log 2392 from 14 August.”

The fire saw the road closed and houses evacuated as firefighters tackled the blaze, with flames clearly visible from across the road and several smaller grass fires starting on the opposite side of the road.

According to Mike Homer, who lives directly across the road from the house, the whole area seemed to have gone up in flames in around 20 minutes.

He said: "It was just horrendous to see it as all the fir trees seemed to go up in about 20 minutes and you could hear the two cars burning at the side of the house, which was alight as well.

"It was just as well the emergency services got here as quickly as they did as it was very frightening to see it actually jumping across the pavement and catching alight on the grass.

"I'm 77-years-old and it's the first time I've ever seen a fire like that and I hope I never do again."

A Google Street Map image shows what the area looked like before the fire. Photo: Google Street Map
The fir trees outside the houses were blackened and dead after the fire

The day after showed the sheer scale of what the fire had done, with the fir trees left blackened and dead, the grass burned and a smell of smoke and burning still lingering in the air.

For those living next to the house, the whole experience had been terrifying as they worried about whether their houses would be taken by the fire or not.

Phil Wildsmith lives next door to the house and said he had first noticed there was something wrong when he saw his windows were steamed up, then said he panicked when he saw the smoke coming over his fence.

He said: "I thought the windows were steaming up because it was hot outside, but then I saw smoke and as I looked over, I saw flames on the bushes at the bottom of the garden.

"I panicked at that point and phoned the fire service, then headed outside to spray the bushes as I was worried about my house, before being rocked off my feet by one of the cars exploding.

"I heard the other one go up and then the fire service told us to get out, so we made a move out and saw the fire on the bushes at the front.

"Amazingly, only the side of my garage has any fire damage, but I can't believe the scale of the damage out here, although not surprised as the weather has left it bone dry for something like that."

Mr Wildsmith said he knew the family who lived in the house and said he was relieved that they were not in the house as he said he feared they wouldn't have escaped.

The pavement outside the house was stained with smoke and fire damage

He said: "It's a miracle that my house is here and undamaged, but it's even more of a miracle that they weren't there as I think they'd have burned to death because there's no way they'd have got out with four kids.

"The cars were parked right next to the door and there was a gas pipe as well, so I don't think they'd have made it out, and you can replace property, but you can't replace human life."

Andrene Clarke lives two doors down and had been putting her washing out when she realised that ash was falling from the sky, then said she saw smoke and felt the fire.

She said: "I came around the front of the house and before I knew it, all the bushes on the edge were ablaze and it seemed to shoot from there up the fence and onto the grass and firs at the front.

"I was devastated to see it as it was creeping up my fence and onto my lawn and I was very worried about it reaching my house and setting that on fire.

"It's a relief to see that only my fence and grass have any damage, but I really feel for the family who live there and I saw his brother come by to take a lot of the valuables out of the house.

"I said to my friend that you see fires like this all the time in Australia, California and down in London, but I never expected to see it happen on my own doorstep."

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