Investigation under way after Northfield Manor arson attack

By Tristan Harris Thursday 31 July 2014 Updated: 03/08 20:34

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Buy photos » This picture was taken from one of the hydraulic platforms used to battle the blaze. Picture by West Midlands Fire Service. s

A TOTAL of 20 fire engines and more than 100 firefighters battled a blaze which ripped through the historic Northfield Manor House on Wednesday night (July 31).

The fire at the property, which was once the home of the Cadbury family, was started deliberately.

The fire service received a 999 call about the incident at 8pm which was the second arson attack on the building in as many days.

With incident commanders using assertive plans and tactics, fire crews managed to confine the flames to the six-storey listed building and the 30metres by 20metres basement, preventing it spreading from the main house to the surrounding area. Another problem encountered by firefighters was the high unsupported chimneys which made the area hazardous.

Luckily, because the building was empty, no one was injured in the incident but the flames and smoke could be seen from miles around, as far afield as the Lickey Hills and Kings Heath.

The fire was also the talk of social networks with pictures and messages being posted on Twitter and Facebook - both by the emergency services involved in the battle and residents expressing their sadness at the devastation of such a beautiful building.

After extinguishing the blaze, around 30 firefighters remained at the manor house today (Thursday).

And, following the fight, the Chief Fire Officer praised crews and the partner organisations for their support at the scene, including West Midlands Police, West Midlands Ambulance Service, the Environment Agency, Birmingham City Council and utility companies.

A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: "The fire is being treated as suspicious and enquiries are ongoing to trace those responsible.

"Forensic specialists will examine the property when the fire is fully extinguished and it is deemed safe."

Anyone with information is asked to call local police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

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