A major incident has been declared, with more than 100 firefighters tackling a huge overnight blaze which has torn through several derelict factories, leading to the evacuation of homes.
The fire on a site off Lower Horseley Fields in Wolverhampton, which is near houses and railway lines, also saw all trains stopped shortly after it was reported at about 9pm on Monday, West Midlands Fire Service said.
Such was the amount of smoke, nearby residents had to be evacuated to two leisure centres, while others have been warned to keep windows closed.
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 efforts of fire crews throughout the evening and into the early hours have seen the incident scaled back, with five fire engines and two aerial platforms at the scene on Tuesday morning.
@WestMidsFire remain at the large fire in Lower Horsley Fields, #Wolverhampton. This is having a considerable impact on trains to @NetworkRailBHM. Plan your journey before you travel. pic.twitter.com/bRJyiw7QBw
— Safer Travel Police (@ST_Police) December 6, 2022
At its height, 28 fire engines were on the scene, with the brigade using a thermal imaging drone to identify hotspots in the blaze, which at one stage covered a fifth of a square kilometre.
Water had to be pumped from the nearby canal, near the junction where the old main line and Wyrley and Essington canals meet.
Road closures and rail disruptions were continuing for passengers and commuters through the rush hour on Tuesday.