A huge industrial fire involving a reported 100,000 tonnes of paper and plastics material for recycling is believed to have been started by a Chinese lantern.
Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at the Jayplas depot in Dartmouth Road, Smethwick, around 11pm on Sunday June 30.
The site is one of six owned by Jayplas, one of the largest plastics recyclers in the UK.
Some 35 fire engines and 200 fire fighters attended the blaze, which has been described by area commander Steve Vincent as one of the largest ever seen in the West Midlands.
Rory Campbell, spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said: “There is no suggestion in this case that the fire has been started deliberately. We have CCTV footage of a sky lantern descending at the site on to high stacks of baled material in an open area.”
The fire service was forced to call on brigades from neighbouring areas of Worcester, Herefordshire and Staffordshire to help combat the fire, which was classified as a Major Incident.
Despite not being in close proximity to the site of the fire, residents in the surrounding area were advised to keep windows shut, while a local primary school was closed due to road closures.
Whilst the fire service “contained” the blaze to an area of about 90,000 square metres, it took more than three days to extinguish the fire.
Mr Campbell stressed that members of the public should think very carefully before releasing sky lanterns.
He said: “The fact that more and more recyclable material is being collected is a positive aspect of vast depots.
“However, an increased risk of fires is an inevitable consequence of this, and we should think about how we manage them in future.”