Express & Star

Cause of blaze which gutted former cinema revealed

A fire which sent plumes of smoke and flames bursting out of the roof of a former cinema is believed to have been started deliberately.

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More than 50 firefighters were called to the Victoria Suite on Windmill Lane in Smethwick at 1.34pm on Sunday after witnesses reported smoke coming from the four-storey Art Deco building.

The subsequent fire saw a number of road and shop closures around the area as 12 fire crews worked through the night to extinguish the fire at the disused cinema and bingo hall.

West Midlands Police closed several roads to traffic, including Windmill Lane, Cranford Street, London Street and Grove Lane, while the adjacent Windmill Shopping Park/Centre was closed early on Sunday due to smoke in the area, with thick clouds of black smoke visible from a mile away.

By Monday morning, the fire was confirmed as out, with two crews remaining at the scene to dampen down hotspots around the building, which had seen the roof collapse during the course of Sunday, while all roads and neighbouring properties were reopened.

It was confirmed today that the incident had been officially closed by West Midlands Fire Service, which also stated that the fire was believed to have been started deliberately.

A spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said: "This incident has been brought to a safe conclusion. All roads and neighbouring premises have reopened.

The fire sent plumes of black smoke into the air and caused nearby roads to be closed

"Our crews will continue to visit the scene over the next few days to monitor for hotspots.

"The fire, which has destroyed a derelict cinema, is believed to have been started deliberately.

The Victoria Suite on Windmill Lane, in Smethwick, following the blaze

"Several small hotspots were identified and extinguished during a revisit to the incident on Sunday afternoon.

"On Sunday evening, a thorough search of the building was conducted using thermal imaging cameras and gas monitors. No further hotspots were identified.

"This incident is now closed."

A spokesman for West Midlands Police said: "A fire at a premises in Windmill Lane, Smethwick, on Sunday afternoon is now being treated as arson.

"Anyone with information can contact us via live chat on our website, or by calling 101, and quote 20/460883/24."

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