Saturday 18 November 2017

Man (56) dies in hospital after firework was set off inside his home

A murder probe has been launched into his death

Anthony Nicholls (56) has died in hospital five days after a firework was set off inside his home in Birmingham Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Anthony Nicholls (56) has died in hospital five days after a firework was set off inside his home in Birmingham Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

Richard Vernalls

An arson attack victim has died in hospital five days after a commercial firework was set off inside his home.

The 56-year-old, named by police as Anthony Nicholls, had been in an induced coma since he was rescued by firefighters from the address in Tile Cross, Birmingham, on Thursday.

West Midlands Police said Mr Nicholls never regained consciousness and detectives had now launched a murder inquiry.

The deadly blaze in Birchtrees Drive was started when a 200-shot firework was planted and ignited inside the victim's home, after the front door had been forced.

His partner, a 50-year-old woman, remains in hospital with fractures after jumping from a first-floor window to escape the burning building.

Detective Inspector Paul Joyce of West Midlands Police said: "Sadly one of the victims of this fire has died and our thoughts are with his family and partner at their time of loss.

"His death means that we are now treating this as a murder enquiry and I would like to re-emphasise the need for anyone with information to call us."

He said officers were studying CCTV, but also called for members of the public who had home security camera footage and had not yet done so to share it with police.

Officers believe the firework, which gutted the home's interior, would have taken two minutes to fully discharge and are asking for help in tracing where it came from.

Mr Joyce added: "The impact would have been terrifying for the occupants and I would urge anyone who sold or is missing a firework of this size to get in touch.

"This would have been a large heavy firework that would have been difficult to carry some distance, so I would ask anyone who saw someone carrying a large box in the area last Thursday night to contact us.

"Any information no matter how insignificant if may seem to you could help our investigation."

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