Man held after fatal blaze at flats

Hillingdon Times: A 20-year-old man is being questioned on suspicion of committing arson with intent to endanger life in Walsall A 20-year-old man is being questioned on suspicion of committing arson with intent to endanger life in Walsall

Police have arrested a man after a fatal blaze which spread from a wheelie bin to a block of flats.

West Midlands Police said one man died and dozens of people had to be evacuated from their homes after a series of three fires broke out between 2.15am and 2.45am on Monday in Willenhall, near Walsall.

A police spokesman said a 20-year-old man was arrested at an address in New Invention, near Walsall, on suspicion of committing arson with intent to endanger life.

The fires happened at a block of maisonettes in Southey Close, near another property in Wychbold Way, and in bushes in Crab Lane.

Emergency services believe the fatal blaze in Southey Close began in a wheelie bin adjacent to the flats.

A police spokesman said: "A number of people had to be rescued from the flats and around 50 people were evacuated due to concerns over the safety of the maisonettes. A man was found collapsed inside the building and was pronounced dead at the scene."

The dead man has yet to be identified by police, who said a woman was also taken to hospital with an ankle injury.

The second fire, which also appeared to have started in a rubbish bin, was reported to police at around 2.35am, and a small number of people were rescued. The third blaze, in which bushes were set alight, was spotted by officers on patrol at 2.45am. The man under arrest was detained a short time after the fires.

Detective Inspector Warren Hines, who is leading the police inquiry, said: "We have launched a full investigation into the series of events this morning, which resulted in the death of a man. At this early stage he is yet to be identified and we are in the process of locating his family.

"A number of scenes are currently cordoned off whilst we carry out forensic searches of the area. We now appeal for people in the community, or anyone who might know anything, to come forward with information to help our inquiry."

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