Neighbours were evacuated during the night as smoke billowed into nearby streets as West Midlands Fire Service battled a blaze at a disused building on Lower Horseley Fields will remain shut for at least the rest of Tuesday, while also saying that local train services may also remain affected “for some time”.
At its height 28 fire engines and more than 100 firefighters were on the scene of the blaze which started at around 9pm and engulfed multiple factory units. Crews also used a thermal imaging drone to identify hotspots in the blaze, which at one stage covered a fifth of a square kilometre.
By Tuesday afternoon the number of firefighters on the scene had halved, but work on dousing the building was still going on.
In a statement the fire service said: “Around 50 firefighters remain in attendance at this incident. Two of our hydraulic platforms are still being used as we continue to make progress from multiple angles.
“Our specialist hazardous materials advisors are in attendance to monitor the smoke plume.
No cause for the fire has been determined yet, although work to find out how the blaze started has begun.
The fire had been declared a major incident, due its size and close proximity to the nearby railway line and houses. Nearby residents were told to keep windows and doors closed while train services in the area were stopped on Monday night while firefighters tackled the blaze.
Water had to be pumped from the nearby canal, near the junction where the old main line and Wyrley and Essington canals meet.
Eyewitness Nathan Fletcher, from Cannock, Staffordshire, said: “We were held up by the cordon on Lower Walsall Street just before 10pm last night (Monday), shortly before police started moving the cordon further back.
“Speaking to other residents, there was a concern of possible spread to the very near BOC Gas – an industrial gases supplier.
“As this was within the first hour of the incident, floods of emergency response vehicles were arriving on scene, and a large presence of West Midlands Ambulance Service.
“The blaze was still not under control at this point, and you could hear the collapsing of material.
“There were many loud bangs, followed by plumes of smoke.”
The effects of the fire were felt this morning, with road closures and train cancellations causing problems for commuters.
National Rail Enquiries has warned passengers that trains may be cancelled, delayed by up to 60 minutes or diverted with major disruption expected until the end of the day.
Road transport is in operation between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury with other trains being diverted away from the city.