Radio Sandwell Local News

Residents flee big distillery blaze in the Black Country

2012-11-26 18:16:05

Langley Green Fire

Homes have been evacuated as more than 100 firefighters tackle a large fire at a distillery in the Black Country.

More than 24 fire engines were sent to the fire at Alcohols Ltd, in Crosswells Road, Langley Green, which started shortly before 10:00 GMT.

A man in his 20s has been taken to hospital suffering from burns.

Some residents said they believed the fire, near a level crossing, had spread to nearby homes. Eyewitnesses have also described hearing explosions.

Darren O'Neil, whose house backs on to the factory, said he looked out of his bedroom window and saw the fire burning.

He said he then heard a scream and saw a worker "covered head to toes in flames".

Window frames melting

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said a man in his 20s had been treated at the scene for burns to his back and a hand before being taken to the specialist burns unit at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Tony Kirkham, who lives near the distillery, said he had seen fireballs going into the air and heard several explosions which "shook the house".

He said: "We saw a Land Rover parked opposite the factory go up in flames, there was nothing we could do to stop it.

"You could also see the window frames melting in people's houses, it was scary."

Mr Kirkham added that residents were worried that the fire could burn for "two to three more days".

Tim Pye, who lives opposite the distillery, said firefighters were dousing down his house.

He said after the fire started he looked out and "just saw orange" and could feel the heat of the fire from his front room.

Debbie Horton, who also lives nearby, said: "I don't know anything - what's going to happen to my house, or the cars that are outside.

"It's very worrying."

Fire service 'stretched'

People reported seeing thick black smoke from several miles away, including from the M5.

West Midlands Police said it had closed eight roads around the factory site and had evacuated homes in Vicarage Street, Crosswells Road, Bloxcidge Street and Vicarage Road.

It said Moat Farm Junior School has been opened for refuge for those evacuated from their homes.

Langley Green Fire

Ch Insp Ian Marsh said: "People are starting to return from work and school and we need anyone trying to either head home, or pass through the affected area, to be aware that they need to make alternative plans."

West Midlands Fire Service said a 100m (328ft) cordon was in place around the site because steel drums were bursting in the fire.

Malcolm Fellows, from the service, said crews from across the West Midlands had been called in to help with the fire.

He added: "We're really stretched."

London Midland said that services between Snow Hill and Stourbridge had been suspended because of the fire.

It said the Midlands Metro was accepting tickets to the Hawthorns ground, while Network West Midlands was accepting them on its nine, 120 and 127 bus services.

Surinder Sohal, who runs a nearby business, said he saw flames that were 40ft to 50ft high.

He said: "It's really, really bad.

"It's been burning for about three hours at the moment and there doesn't seem to be any chance of it stopping. You can feel the heat, even standing 300-400 yards away."

The Environment Agency also said it was at the scene to check on the environmental impact of the fire.


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