Selly Oak Fire – As Observed Through Social Media

Selly Oak, the area immediately south of the University of Birmingham campus, was trending on Twitter on Sunday evening. Not globally or even nationally as that would be rather hard unless there a really horrible disaster had occurred, but in the considerably smaller “Birmingham” region.

The cause was an arson attack on a big pile of tyres which led to quite spectacular plumes of smoke rising from waste land adjacent to the Worcester – Birmingham canal.

The tyres, which were presumably due to be used to support embankments around the Selly Oak Relief Road, were ablaze for quite some time and judging from the number of tweets could be seen from miles around.

High population density, many of them students aware with social media led to a flurry of messages, photos and videos being posted online as the story developed.

Google Realtime Twitter Search Volume for Selly Oak

From my parents house 100 miles away I was able to follow the tweets of those who had spotted the smoke, read as they tried to pinpoint its source and read updates from people going to see what was happening. I saw a video of fire engines trying to access the site and lots of photos uploaded to twitpic and yfrog.

Here are some of the best photos I have permission to post here [click any to view full sized]:

Fire by the train tracks @SellyOakNews @hughhopkins on Twitpic#Birmingham #SellyOak Fire as seen from Bristol Road. 22nd Ma... on Twitpic#Birmingham #SellyOak @SellyOakNews Students pouring out onto... on Twitpic

'The Selly Oak Fire' and a very tiny fireman on TwitpicClose up of the fire! @SellyOakNews on Twitpic

Just a small case study as to how news can quickly spread through social media… Apparently our house in Selly Oak stank of rubber, so glad I wasn’t there!

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