At 11:24am this morning (Sat 1 July), we were called to a fire in a tower block in Birmingham.
The incident, which is suspected arson, happened in the communal lobby area of the 22nd floor of the 32-storey Cleveland Tower in Holloway Head.
West Midlands police are investigating the incident, with support from our own specialist fire investigators.
Four fire engines and around 20 firefighters were sent to the scene, from Ladywood, Bournbrook and Highgate Community Fire Stations. The first crew arrived in 4 minutes and 28 seconds and immediately started an assertive firefighting operation.
Area Commander Ben Brook, of West Midlands Fire Service, said: “We understand that around 750 people live in the tower block, but that no-one was injured.
“Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London last month, today’s incident was understandably shocking for everyone concerned.
“Some 30 to 40 people decided to leave the building, although this was from areas not affected by fire or smoke.
“The building’s design, which includes compartmentalisation of individual flats, performed as expected.
“Damage caused by the fire was confined to the lobby area, although smoke affected the building from the 15th floor to the top of the building.
“We are working closely with West Midlands Police and liaising with WM Housing who own the building.”
A/Cmdr Brook added: “Our firefighters will be carrying out Safe and Well checks for residents of Cleveland Tower and providing reassurance.
“I would urge all residents of high-rise blocks, in the West Midlands and across the country, to make themselves aware of the evacuation procedure that applies in their building. This should be communicated by the landlord.
“It is also important that lobbies, stairwells and communal areas are kept free of clutter and combustible materials.
“Residents of high-rise properties are not at greater risk of a fire starting, but we should all take fire safety precautions, starting with fitting smoke alarms in our own homes and testing them weekly.
“I urge everyone living in tower blocks to have a plan of what to do should a fire start in their own flat or elsewhere in the building.”
In case there’s a fire in your flat:
- plan and practise an escape route with anyone you live with – it’s usually your normal way in and out
- close doors behind you as you leave
- activate the fire alarm if you can do so safely
- don’t use lifts
- get out, stay out, call 999
If there’s a fire in another part of the building:
- know your landlord’s advice, which may be ‘stay put’ or evacuate
- fire safety standards mean individual flats should be safe from fire for 30-60 minutes
If you do stay put:
- call 999
- use wet towels or sheets to fill gaps around doors and seal out smoke
- smoke rises, so stay low
- if there’s no smoke outside, open a window slightly to let smoke out but try to avoid breaking the window as you might need to close it later.