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Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2007, 12:40 GMT
Firefighter deaths inquest opens
Michael Miller (left) and Jeff Wornham died while tackling a fire
The men died of "thermal injury" after being overcome by heat
Two firefighters died trying to save a woman who had already been killed by fire fumes in a burning block of flats in Hertfordshire, an inquest has heard.

Jeff Wornham, 28, and Michael Miller, 26, died in February 2005 with Natalie Close, 32, at Harrow Court, Stevenage.

Mr Wornham died entangled in cables in the lobby outside the 14th floor flat and his colleague was later found in a bedroom near the body of Mrs Close.

The men died of "thermal injury" after being overcome by heat, the jury heard.

They had gone to fight a blaze on the 14th floor of the 17-storey block of flats, near Stevenage town centre.

The fire broke out in flat 85 after a small candle had been left on top of a television.

Harrow Court, in Silam Road, Stevenage, Herts
The fire began on the 14th floor of Harrow Court in Stevenage

While trying to rescue the mother-of-two, the fire escalated, the men's breathing apparatus failed and they were quickly overcome by the intense heat and all three were killed.

An earlier report had said the two firefighters did not have access to water to tackle the fire because the outlet at the flats had been chained shut due to vandalism.

Stevenage Borough Council had informed the fire service but the first fire engine to arrive had not brought bolt cutters.

The report also said a risk assessment was not carried out before the fire officers went into the flats.

Coroner Edward Thomas said: "We are investigating the deaths of three people who died suddenly and unexpectedly in awful circumstances."

Mr Wornham, was from Royston, Hertfordshire, and Mr Miller was from Stevenage.


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