Man arrested in flat death fire probe
8 October 2012
A MAN arrested following a major fire in Willenhall remains in police custody this afternoon (Monday 8 October).
The 20-year-old was arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life following the blaze at maisonettes on Southey Close in the early hours of today.
Emergency services arrived at the scene at 2.15am to find a fire which is believed to have spread from a wheelie bin adjacent to the building.
As fire-fighters battled through the flames to rescue stricken tenants, they discovered a man collapsed inside the building; he was pronounced dead at the scene and is yet to be identified.
In total, around 50 people were evacuated due to concerns over the safety of the maisonettes. One woman was taken to hospital with an ankle injury.
Around 20 minutes later a further fire was reported on Wychbold Way, which also appeared to have been started in a bin. No one was injured, however, a small number of people also had to be rescued.
At 2.45am a third fire was spotted by officers on patrol on Crab Lane where bushes were alight, however no one was injured.
Police investigating the series of fires visited an address in nearby New Invention a short while later and arrested the 20-year-old.
Detective Inspector Warren Hines, from the Force Major Investigation Team, is leading the police inquiry. This afternoon he renewed his appeal for information at the scene of the blaze where the man lost his life.
“There was a serious fire here overnight. We’ve had 50 people evacuated from the premises and sadly we’ve discovered one man deceased within the flats.
“There were also a number of other minor fires in the immediate area surrounding these flats. Thankfully no-one was injured during the course of those fires.
“We have made an arrest of a local man who is in custody at the moment and he will be questioned by detectives later today.
“The motive for the fires remains unclear at this time but this may become clear during the course of our investigation.
“I would say to the public that this is as serious as it gets. An innocent man has lost his life in a place where he should have been safe – in his own home. People need to examine their consciences and if they do know anything, they need to contact the police as a matter of urgency.”
The deceased man is yet to be identified and a post mortem examination will be conducted in due course.
Officers remain in the area conducting house to house enquiries and examining CCTV footage which may have captured the incident on camera.
Such was the extent of the fire that tenants are yet to be allowed back into their homes.
Anyone who can help the police investigation is urged to contact the Major Investigation Team at Harborne police station by dialling 101, or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.