Birmingham & Black Country

Langley Green distillery fire: 16 homes uninhabitable

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionManaging director of Alcohols Ltd, Adam Wallis, has expressed concern for the safety of the local community following the fire

Sixteen homes devastated by a fire at a distillery in the Black Country have been left "uninhabitable".

Sandwell Borough Council said people living in properties affected by the fire at Alcohols Ltd in Langley Green were staying in a nearby hotel.

Fire investigators believe Monday's blaze on Crosswells Road was probably caused by a combination of chemicals being mixed.

One hundred firefighters tackled the flames at the height of the blaze.

About 200 properties were evacuated and many residents from Hall Street and Crosswells Street spent a second night away from home on Tuesday.

One resident, Tim Pye, said his family of five were hoping to move back later but would be spending a third night with his parents.

Serious burns

"The house was only 20m away from the fire, but we've come off very lightly," he said.

"There's only a slightly bent front door and one cracked window, but we've still got to look at it in detail."

Council leader Darren Cooper said there were concerns over the stability of the remaining parts of the buildings.

He said: "The company's contractors have tested for asbestos inside affected homes and the results are negative.

"There is some low grade asbestos around the site and a clean up operation is ongoing."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe West Midlands Police helicopter filmed explosions at the site in the fire

The fire, which caused several roads in the area to be cordoned off and train services to be cancelled, left one man with serious burns.

Police said the man, in his 20s, was in a stable condition at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital having suffered burns to 20% of his body.

The Health and Safety Executive said it was "aware and investigating".

A spokesperson said: "We will be liaising with West Midlands Fire and Rescue to establish the cause of the fire and whether the company was adequately managing its risks to workers and the public."

On Tuesday, West Midlands Fire Service said the exact cause of the fire was still being investigated, but it believed the blaze started when chemicals were transferred from large tanks outside the main building to smaller drums.

A structural engineer was assessing whether the building needed to be demolished.

Officials at Alcohols Ltd said they were "indebted to the swift response of the emergency services" and were supporting the injured man and his family.

Some road closures in the area were likely to remain in place for at least week, the council said.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites