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News items related to incidents we have attended or are involved in.

Caught on camera! Candle fire rips through flat

ceiling burning and smoke as candle fire rips through flat

A West Midlands man has warned people to take care with candles, after a home security camera caught a candle fire ripping through his flat.

Wazcar Abreu briefly left his home after lighting tealights. Just minutes later he returned to find it ablaze and ten West Midlands firefighters tackling the flames.

Footage from his security camera shows him lighting the tealights on a shelf, in memory of a relative. After he briefly pops out of his flat, the tealights ignite combustible items nearby. It takes just two minutes for the fire and smoke to consume the first-floor landing.

At the start of Home Safety Week, which is led by the National Fire Chiefs Council, we’re echoing Wazcar’s call for people to take extra care with candles and tealights.

He said: “I only left the flat for a few minutes but then got a call from a friend telling me what was happening.

“It all happened so quickly, the speed of the fire and the firefighters arriving. There was lots of fire and smoke. I still can’t believe it, so I want to send a message to people to please take care.”

We got the 999 call to Summer Road in Erdington from a passer-by. Just after 7.20pm on 14 May 2021 they saw a window being blown out by an aerosol exploding in the heat of the fire.

Two fire engines, from Ward End and Sutton Coldfield fire stations, arrived within five minutes.

Crew Commander Dave Bailey, from Ward End fire station, said: “It’s incredibly rare for a candle fire like this to be caught on camera. The footage not only shows the nightlights being lit but the speed at which the resulting fire develops.

“We needed to wear breathing apparatus and to force our way into the empty flat, before using hose reel jets to extinguish the flames.

“The fire damage was confined to the landing area, but could have been much worse. Fortunately, no-one was hurt but there was extensive smoke damage throughout.

“Please never leave burning candles unattended, even if only for a few seconds or minutes. Keep them well away from other combustible items. When you do blow them out, make sure they’re fully extinguished.

“Be sure to fit and regularly test smoke alarms on every level of your home and in the areas you use most. Whenever you leave home or go to bed, always close internal doors to help stop the spread of flames and smoke if there is a fire.”

Still candleAvoiding Candle Fires

Candles can create a relaxing or special atmosphere, but also bring fire into your home. So to avoid candle fires please use them carefully:

  • keep burning candles in sight and extinguish them before leaving a room or going to sleep
  • never burn a candle on, or near, anything that can catch fire
  • keep them out of the reach of children and pets, and away from anywhere they might knock them over
  • place burning candles at least three inches apart so they don’t melt one another or create draughts that can cause the candles to flare
  • always use a sturdy, heat-resistant candle holder on a heat-resistant surface that’s big enough to contain drips and melted wax
  • keep burning candles away from draughts, vents, ceiling fans and air currents. Draughts could also blow lightweight items into a flame where they could catch fire.

A candle with the wick smoking just after being put outPutting them out

Extinguishing candles with water could cause hot wax to splatter or a glass container to shatter. Instead, use a metal spoon or a snuffer. Make sure a candle is completely extinguished and the wick is no longer glowing before leaving the room. Never use a candle as a nightlight. Never touch or move a burning candle when the wax is liquid.

Find out more about keeping safe in the home on our Safety in the home page.

Off-duty WMFS Firefighter saves life of boy trapped in severe house fire

Firefighter Russ Jones stood in front of a fire engine

West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) has praised the swift and selfless actions of an offduty firefighter who saved the life of a young child trapped in a severe house fire. 

Following reports of an ‘orange glow’ coming from a house on Farren Road, Firefighter Russ Jones rushed over to help, on Thursday 18 March.

Firefighter Russ Jones stood in front of a fire engine

After making a call to WMFS Fire Control, Firefighter Jones was informed that the male occupant’s son was missing in the property. Hearing screams and recognising the severity of the fire on the first floor, Firefighter Jones concluded the young boy must be on the ground floor, so started looking through the windows to locate him. 

After spotting a curtain moving in the front room, he looked closer to see the boy lying on the floor by the front room window. Smashing the window with a rock, Russ then quickly removed some of the glass before he leaned in and pulled the child to safety. 

Firefighter Jones’s eight colleagues from Northfield Fire Stationfive firefighters from Kings Norton and another five from Woodgate Valley attended the scene minutes later. Sixteen breathing apparatus and three hose reel jets were used to tackle the large fire which had broken out upstairs. 

 The boy was treated for minor injuries by West Midlands Ambulance colleagues and then transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital  

Russ Jones, who has been a firefighter for West Midlands Fire Service for the last 24 years, said: 

“As soon as I saw the fire and was told a young child missing in the property, I had to do something. The fire was too intense upstairs and because I could hear the screams I knew the boy had to be on the ground floor. Without my firefighting kit there it was too dangerous for me to enter the property, so I had to find a way of trying to locate the boy and rescue him. I’m just so grateful I did and that he is ok.  

 I did what any of my colleagues would have done in the same situation. I’m a dad myself, so I’m just so grateful I managed to locate the boy and get them out of the property.” 

 Group Commander at West Midlands Fire Service, Marc Hudsonsaid: 

“The swift and selfless actions of Firefighter Jones represent the very best of West Midlands Fire Service. We’re very proud of Russ for saving the young boy’s life, had he not acted so quickly and professionally, this incident may have ended in tragedy.  

 I’d also like to commend the on-duty crews from Northfield, Kings Norton and Woodgate Valley who arrived in just over three minutes and worked extremely hard to extinguish the severe fire.”   

Fire Investigators who attended the scene confirmed the fire was accidental. 

Reassurance for high-rise residents

Fire engine with firefighters and an ambulance technician outside a highrise block

Residents of high-rise building in Solihull are being reassured about the safety of their home following a sixth-floor fire. 

The incident at Redwood House in Kingshurst, on the evening of 5 December, was attended by 11 fire crews. The design of the building and fire safety measures meant, however, that the severe fire was successfully contained to the flat in which it started.

Fire engine with firefighters and an ambulance technician outside a highrise block

The 12-storey block contains 66 flats for elderly residents. Some residents decided to leave their homes during the incident and then had to be led to safety by firefighters. But others who decided to ‘stay put’ remained safe and their homes were unaffected. 

Area Commander Samantha Burton, of West Midlands Fire Service, said: “The front door to the affected flat stopped the fire and contained it within. Only the communal area outside suffered minor smoke damage.  

“Our Fire Safety Officers have been carrying out further investigations since the incident and have found the same fire safety measures throughout the building.  

We would like to reassure residents that the building’s ‘stay put’ policy is fit for purpose and that the built-in aspects of fire protection are sound. 

“We would like to thank those residents who did stay in their homes. This meant that our fire crews could focus on tackling the fire and concluding the incident aquickly and as safely as possible.” 

Fire safety inspections have found that the building is wellmaintained, complies with fire legislation and has high standards of fire protection.

Last month, Solihull Community Housing (SCH) announced that it is to fit fire sprinklers throughout its high-rise housing stock in the borough. 

Added Area Commander Burton: We recognise and welcome Solihull Community Housing’s continued investment in fire safety. Their installation of sprinklers throughout their high-rise premises will dramatically reduce the risk from fire to both their residents and any of our firefighters who need to respond to any incidents.

“Since the Redwood House incident on 5 December we have continued to liaise closely with SCH and want residents to feel safe and reassured. Anyone who would like us to advise on fire safety in their own flat just needs to contact us via their housing representative and we will be in touch. 

We’ll be continuing to work closely with residents and SCH in 2021, to ensure that the high fire safety standards which proved so effective in this instance continue.” 

Residents are being urged to get into the habit of having a night-time routine to help prevent fire  

  • if you have any concerns, raise them as soon as you can with your landlord 
  • turn off appliances and equipment like cookers and TVs which don’t need power overnight 
  • close internal doors, which can help to stop fire spreading 
  • fully extinguish smoking materials such as cigarettes and matches, and candles, before you go to bed 
  • charge items such a mobile phones and tablets during the day, when you can keep an eye on them. 

In addition: 

  • make sure you know the escape plan for your particular building – your landlord has a legal duty to give you a copy, so ask for one if you haven’t had it 
  • keep exits clear – in your own flat and in shared areas 
  • never wedge a fire door open 
  • don’t make changes to your flat’s front door without seeking advice from the managing agency 
  • keep corridors and stairwells clear and sterile, eg do not dump rubbish or old furniture there 
  • if you have any concerns, raise them as soon as you can with your landlord. 

For further high-rise safety advice, visit: https://www.wmfs.net/safety/at-home/#highrise 

Holiday Inn, Walsall

A photo of the Holiday Inn, Walsall on fire, with their sign in the foreground.

A review of how a fire spread through a West Midlands hotel is being carried out by West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS).

Firefighters arrived at the Holiday Inn near Walsall within 4 minutes of being mobilised. They immediately started to tackle what was already a significant fire, which soon consumed much of the building.

Aerial photo by Walsall Fire Station, other photographs by John Kennett.

999 calls started to be received shortly before 4pm on Friday 2 August 2019, to the site near Junction 10 of the M6 motorway.

WMFS were supported at the scene throughout the weekend by colleagues from several other agencies and the hotel management.

Our fire investigators are satisfied that the fire started accidentally, in the hotel sauna area.

Gary Taylor, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said: “Our Fire Control received a 999 call from the Holiday Inn at 3.54pm to a report of an electrical fire in the sauna. Two fire engines were mobilised within 42 seconds, as part of our pre-planned initial response to the site. The first crews arrived in under four minutes.

“Two teams of firefighters wearing breathing apparatus immediately entered the building to fight the fire. However, the fire had already entered the roof space. Shortly afterwards it spread to other parts of the building.

“Fortunately, the premises were successfully evacuated and so our crews tackled the fire from outside. The roof had completely collapsed and we had real concerns about the stability of the remaining structure.”

At its height there were around 50 WMFS personnel at the incident. Over the weekend a total of 19 fire engines, six Brigade Response Vehicles, three aerial platforms and more than 100 personnel were there.

ACFO Taylor added: “The premises were not fitted with fire sprinklers but, previously, our fire safety officers had recommended they be retro-fitted in line with our Fire Authority’s position.

“Our fire investigators believe that the fire started accidentally, in the sauna room. However, we will be carrying out further investigations to try to pinpoint the precise cause. We will also be looking in detail into factors that might have contributed to the spread and scale of the fire.

“This incident is a stark reminder to us all about the devastating impact a fire can have. It underlines the importance of businesses having up-to-date fire safety procedures, and of their staff, guests and visitors familiarising themselves with escape routes as an absolute priority.”

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