Watch flames shoot out of the former cinema and bingo hall in a dramatic blaze that filled the city with smoke

Dramatic video and photos from the scene showed smoke billowing from The Victoria Suite as firefighters from an aerial platform fetched water from a nearby canal to douse the flames.

More than 50 firefighters were called to Windmill Lane, Smethwick, at 1.34pm on Sunday after witnesses reported smoke coming from the four-storey Art Deco building.

Roads were closed while 12 fire crews worked through the afternoon and night to extinguish the blaze.

The fire in progress
The fire in progress

In a statement, the fire service said: “A total of 12 fire crews are currently attending this incident, which involves a fire at a commercial property, formally a cinema complex. A hydraulic aerial platform is also on site.

“There is heavy smoke in the premises and crews are working to locate and tackle the fire.”

Smoke filled the area as the fire burned through the building. Photo: West Midlands Police

West Midlands Police closed several roads to traffic, including Windmill Lane, Cranford Street, London Street and Grove Lane, while the adjacent Windmill Shopping Park/Centre was closed early on Sunday due to smoke in the area.

The fire service later confirmed the flames had broken through the roof of the building, with firefighters taking on water from the Cape Arm of the Birmingham Canal.

The fire in progress

An update said: “Due to the poor structural integrity of the building, a structural engineer has been requested to go to the site.”

A later statement added: “A structural engineer attended to assess the property. We are working with their advice to ensure the safety of our crews and surrounding properties.

Smoke was seen billowing from the building in the nearby retail park. Photo: West Midlands Police
Smoke was seen billowing from the building in the nearby retail park. Photo: West Midlands Police

“Due to the effective efforts of firefighters on the scene, buildings and retail establishments near the affected locations are no longer at risk of fire.”

Shortly after midnight, it was confirmed that crews remained at the scene to tackle the fire as access to nearby homes was restored.

By 7.30am, the fire service had reduced its presence to just two crews as they doused hot spots, a challenge made more difficult by the roof collapse.

A further update shortly after 10am added: “Our crews will remain on scene throughout the day. The reopening of shops and roads has begun, however intermittent temporary closures may be necessary for safety reasons. Please follow any signage or directions they provide. are working on site to help keep everyone safe.”

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “Windmill Lane will remain closed for the rest of the day, although the commercial premises are now accessible. The cause of the fire is being investigated by West Midlands Fire Service.”

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