Major fire in Smethwick

Thursday 24 October:

The Smethwick recycling site fire this week featured extensively in the BBC’s ‘Real Rescues’ programme (Tues 22 Oct).

Please click here to watch a short video in which the Regional Operations Director of a neighbouring company, which our firefighters saved from destruction by the flames, praises the brigade’s work.


Friday 4 July:

Poundland have tonight confirmed that they are to stop selling sky lanterns.

Vij Randeniya, Chief Fire Officer for the West Midlands and President of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said:

“We asked for a sensible conversation about sky lanterns with sensible people, and we are really pleased that Poundland have stepped up to the plate.

“This will make a direct contributon to public safety. We welcome it, and call on other responsible retailers to follow suit as soon as possible.

“Our firefighters showed great skill and courage in controlling this enormous fire. We were at the scene for days. Poundland’s decision means their efforts were not in vain.”


Friday 4 July:

We finally left the scene shortly before 10pm last night, with revisits planned overnight. On-site security called us back to the scene at around 5am today when there was a fire flare-up. One fire engine will be there today, as a precaution, while diggers continue to break-up and turn over the debris.


Wednesday 3 July:

This morning we have three fire engines and around 15 firefighters at the scene. They are still working closely with the company, whose diggers are driving channels into the molten, crust-covered plastic to allow our crews to turn over the debris and damp it down. We expect to remain there at least for the rest of the day. A decision will be made in due course as to when it will be safe and appropriate to leave the scene and make regular revisits rather than maintain a continual presence.


These two short sections of CCTV footage show the moment at which the object we believe to be a sky lantern floated into the premises late on Sunday night.

In this section, the object enters the screen from the right at approximately 11 seconds, and moves towards the left:

Clip 1

The object comes into view in this clip at 14 seconds:

Clip 2


Tuesday 2 July:

Around ten fire engines and 60 firefighters remain at the fire scene this morning - that’s still around 20 per cent of our available resources. Less than five per cent of the recycling products are now burning.

The operation is into its final stages, but it’s likely that we will be on site until at least tomorrow.

We are working closely with the company, and a digger and excavator are now on site. These will be used to break up the molten, compacted plastic, so we can extinguish any deep-seated pockets of fire.

Current road closures:

Birmingham Road at Halfords Lane
Telford Way at Dartmouth Road
Dartmouth Road at Bevan Way
Halfords Lane at Cambridge Road
Dartmouth Road/ Brasshouse Lane/ Lewisham Road/ Cambridge Road
Lewisham Road at Middlemore Road
Brasshouse Road at North Western Road

Fortunately, none of the ten firefighters injured yesterday was seriously hurt. A total of four went to hospital, for precautionary checks. They were not detained.


We’ll be giving a number of media interviews tonight (Monday) and in the morning about the Smethwick fire.

Our Chief Fire Officer will be interviewed in both local TV news programmes (ITV and BBC) at 6pm and 6.30pm.

One of our Area Commanders will be live on BBC radio stations across the Midlands at about 10.10pm, then on BBC Radio 5 Live at around 10.30pm to contribute to a debate about sky lanterns.

We’ll give a live update during the Midlands Today late bulletin at 10.25pm.

In the morning, BBC WM will again be broadcasting live from the fire scene, and we’ll be outlining the latest situation and progress overnight.

And our Chief Fire Officer will be on the national BBC Breakfast programme sometime between 7.30am and 8.30am, talking about the need for tighter controls on sky lanterns.



We’ve had nearly 40 fire engines at the scene, including seven from Staffs and three from Hereford and Worcester.

Our our own high volume water pumping unit is also being used, as well as one from Staffs.

Three aerial appliances are there - two are ours, and one is from Staffs.

Other resources deployed: Incident Command Unit; Environment Unit; Incident Support Unit; Welfare Unit; Specialist officers - HAZMAT (hazardous materials), scientific advisor, media officers.

The scene has been ‘sectorised’ and split into three specific fire-fighting areas. A priority is protecting surrounding buildings.

We’re working and liaising directly with several partner agencies, including:

West Midlands Police
West Midlands Ambulance Service (including their Hazardous Area Response Team)
Environment Agency
Severn Trent
Highways Agency
Birmingham Airport
Birmingham Canal Main LIne
DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government)
CFRAU (Chief Fire and Rescue Advisors Unit)
Public Health England


The ongoing fire at Jayplas in Smethwick is among the biggest ever dealt with by West Midlands Fire Service.

We believe that it was started by a sky lantern, which floated into the site at around 11pm last night (Sunday).

Within two hours, 35 fire engines were involved. It called on so many of our resources that we had to call in support from neighbouring brigades (Hereford and Worcester, and Staffordshire). Ten of their appliances are still with us, and we are very grateful for their assistance.

We have classified the fire as a Major Incident, due to the strain it has placed on our resources. Staff in our control room have so far taken 420 calls related to the incident.

We had been due to host Chris Williamson, the Shadow Fire Minister, today but his visit has been cancelled given that all of our officers are committed at the scene in Smethwick.

Up to 200 firefighters have been using assertive tactics to control the blaze, which involves 100,000 tons of recycled plastic and paper in an area 300 metres square.

Two firefighters have been treated at hospital - one for an eye injury, one for an ankle injury. Eight more have been treated at the scene for the effects of the intense heat.

People who live or work nearby should keep their doors and windows closed, as a precaution.

We’re also asking people to keep away from the area, and to avoid Junction 1 of the M5. Local road closures affect Dartmouth Road, Halford Lane and Brasshouse Lane.

We’re liaising closely with Birmingham International Airport with regards to the smoke which, currently, hasn’t affected flights.

The Environment Agency are working closely with us at the scene, the fire is considered as no more toxic than a normal fire.

Galton Valley Primary School needed to stay closed because of our operations and vehicle movements.

Major fire in Smethwick

Major fire in Smethwick

Major fire in Smethwick

Major fire in Smethwick

Major fire in Smethwick

Major fire in Smethwick

Major Fire in Smethwick

Major Fire in Smethwick

Major Fire in Smethwick

Major Fire in Smethwick

Major Fire in Smethwick


The massive Smethwick recycling site fire (July 2013) this week featured extensively in the BBC’s ‘Real Rescues’ programme (Tues 22 Oct).


The blaze was the biggest of its kind ever tackled by West Midlands Fire Service.


Here, the Regional Operations Director of a neighbouring company, which firefighters saved from destruction by the flames, praises the brigade’s work.

Press Release Date: 
Monday, July 1, 2013 - 11:45