50 firemen tackle blaze at scrapyard; FIRE: Crews use 300,000 litres of water as flames shoot 60ft into the air.
FIFTY firefighters battled to contain a scrapyard blaze which sent flames shooting 60ft into the air and left a huge pall of smoke which could be seen across Birmingham.
Crews pumped 300,000 litres of water from a nearby canal as they fought through the night to control the massive blaze at All Metal Recovery in Anne Road, Smethwick.
The cause of last night's fire, involving 100 cars which were piled high, was under investigation today as firefighters damped down and helped scrapyard staff turn over the debris looking for any further seats of fire.
West Midlands Fire Service Divisional Officer Phil James said: "It was a massive fire. We had loads of calls to the incident, which sent a huge pall of smoke at least 120ft high into the air.
"The smoke was blown towards the nearby M5 and M6 and trams on the Midland Metro, which runs close to the scrapyard, were stopped for a time.
"Trains also run close by but they carried on running but at reduced speeds. A number of roads were closed, diversions were put in place and residents were warned to keep their doors and windows shut.
"There were a number of small explosions in the pile of scrap cars, about 30 ft high, but no-one was injured." The fire broke out at about 7.20pm and ten fire engines were sent to the scene. The owner of the scrapyard and his staff worked alongside firefighters, using diggers to reduce the height of the stack. Mr James said that scrap cars were pulverised at the plant and reduced into bales of metal.
"One of the biggest problems was that the seat of the fire was deep down in the pile of scrap cars and it was difficult to get to the heart of the blaze. Huge quantities of water from the nearby canal were pumped to the scene to fight the blaze and we used a hydraulic platform to tackle the fire from above as well as from the ground.
"The owner of the company and his workers were a big help to the firefighters, using their equipment to drag cars out of the pile and reduce the neight of the stack," he added.
ON GUARD... a police officer outside the scrapyard in Anne Road as firefighters spray the flames from on high, right. Pictures: Loretta Brennan; SMOKING... the scrapyard from Cambridge Tower in the city centre. Picture: Jason Skarratt; FEELING THE HEAT... a fireman douses the blaze as his colleagus, right, look on in Anne Road.