West Midlands Fire Service was alerted to a fire in Cape Hill, Smethwick at 12pm on Tuesday (August 13), which seems to have originated from an ice cream van and spread to a former pharmacy, it told C+D.
It sent six fire engines and 30 firefighters to respond to the fire, which had spread to the ground, first, and second floors of the pharmacy premises and adjoining shops.
Jhoots Pharmacy told C+D that although no one was injured, the fire left the branch – which was permanently closed at the end of January 2019 – “badly damaged”.
Although the pharmacy was no longer operational, Jhoots said it is still paying rent on the premises and therefore stored some “non-perishable stock” at the former branch.
The fire caused “minor stock loss” that the chain estimates was worth “several thousands of pounds”, while damage to fixtures and fittings could cost up to “tens of thousands”, Jhoots added.
“It is extremely lucky that no one was on site, as staff and third party contractors had been [there] only last week,” Jhoots said.
West Midlands Fire Service remained on site until 10.30pm and is still investigating the cause of the fire. It is not thought to be suspicious, it said.
Damage to the building
Explaining the extent of the damage, Jhoots said the suspended ceiling on the ground floor is falling in and the façade has been badly damaged by the flames, which caused concerns in terms of the structural integrity of the building.
However, the local authority building control team inspected the premises and “is satisfied that the building is capable of being accessed”, Jhoots added.
The shops adjacent to the former pharmacy have been affected by the fire, but “not to the same extent as the Jhoots premises”.
Jhoots’ solicitor Ian Bowker said the chain “would like to say a huge thank you for the tremendous bravery and diligence of both the West Midlands Fire and Police Services for their respective efforts in dealing with this incident”.