Ten years on, memories of brave firefighters honoured in service - The Rugby Observer

Ten years on, memories of brave firefighters honoured in service

Ian Hughes 9th Nov, 2017   0

FIREFIGHTERS who lost their lives in the Atherstone-on-Stour warehouse blaze a decade ago have have been honoured at a memorial service.

A ceremony at St Mary’s Church in Warwick marked the ten year anniversary of the deaths of Ashley Stephens, 20, Darren Yates-Badley, 24, John Averis, 27, and Ian Reid, 44, who lost their lives tackling the massive fire at the vegetable packing plant near Stratford on November 2, 2007.

It was attended by the families of the four victims, together with firefighters from across the UK, and representatives from Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Police.

The Cheshire Fire Service Choir sang Bruce Springsteen’s song The Rising, the story of a New York City Fire Department firefighter climbing one of the World Trade Center towers after the hijacked planes had crashed into it on 9/11.

Warwickshire chief fire officer Andy Hickmott said: “The memorial service provided us with an opportunity to stop and reflect on the lives of those we lost on November 2, 2007.

“I hope the event brought comfort to all who attended. Although gone, they will never be forgotten and will forever hold an honoured place in the hearts of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service and the fire service community nationally.”

Warwickshire County Council community protection spokesman Howard Roberts added: “Marking the ten year anniversary in this way was a fitting tribute to the four brave firefighters – Ashley, Darren, John and Ian – who lost their lives serving the community they loved.”

The ceremony began with the standard bearers’ ceremonial salute, followed by the tolling of the fire service bell four times. The ceremony closed with the sound of the last post, followed by a minute’s silence and a blessing by the fire service chaplain.

To mark the event, flags at fire stations across the county were flown at half-mast.

The Atherstone tragedy saw the most firefighters lost in a single incident in the UK since seven firefighters died while fighting a warehouse blaze in Glasgow in 1972.

A £4.6million investigation led by Warwickshire Police concluded the fire was most likely an arson attack, although no one was ever charged.

But the county council was fined £30,000 in 2012 for failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees, although three commanding fire officers were acquitted of manslaughter charges.

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