A 26-year-old man is being treated for multiple wounds and burns following a fire at G&P Batteries in Walsall.
A number of lithium batteries exploded at the plant in Darlaston at around 1.45pm on 23 May.
West Midlands Fire Service sent 30 firefighters to tackle a fire that then spread through the premises, involving four tonnes of batteries.
West Midlands Ambulance Service said paramedics were on the scene within seven minutes. An emergency doctor and an NHS hazardous area response team also attended.
An ambulance spokesman said: “While firefighters brought the blaze under control, ambulance staff dealt with a 26-year-old man who had suffered multiple wounds across his body, head and face, as well as both arms and legs. He also had burns on both hands.
“Staff dressed his wounds and stabilised his condition before taking him to the major trauma centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham for further assessment and treatment. There were no other patients.”
Fire crews visited the scene this morning and confirmed the blaze had been fully extinguished.
A statement from G&P Batteries said the used lithium batteries were being packaged for onward delivery to an accredited recycler and that they ”unexpectedly and spontaneously combusted”.
It continued: “The intense heat from the fire consequently ignited other batteries awaiting despatch for recycling. The fire was successfully contained by the bespoke infrastructure G+P Batteries employs to handle these hazardous materials. Emergency Services attended and extinguished the fire.
”Regrettably member of G and P Batteries staff, who was working close by, suffered minor injuries. He is expected to make a full recovery and return to work in the next few days.”
G&P Batteries was hit by two fires in 2014 within the space of a few weeks.
Managing director Greg Clementson:
“Our first priority was the safety of our staff and to ensure no harm to the environment. I was delighted with the response of our teams and that of the Emergency Services. We are pleased that our injured colleague is recovering well.
”Working in deep collaboration with the local Emergency Services we have well-rehearsed procedures for dealing with these types of incidents.
“We must all remember that these are the same batteries (lithium batteries) that people are relying upon every day to power mobile phones, computers and cars and the risk of combustion in certain circumstances is well known and documented.
”This risk is magnified when you are dealing with waste products which in some cases may have been damaged.
”Working with the battery manufacturers, original equipment suppliers and waste collection schemes, G&P Batteries has developed robust systems and criteria to manage risks associated with damaged and defective batteries, to ensure the safety of our staff and the local environment.
“Safety at our site is our main priority and we are thankful that the systems and processes that we have in place to protect staff and equipment prevented what could have been a more significant incident. We are grateful to the crews that attended from West Midland Fire Service and pleased that the incident commander praised both the company’s and staff’s reactions to the incident and efforts to minimise impact.”
- Pictures from West Midlands Fire Service