Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Firefighters 'face arrest' over warehouse deaths

Clockwise from top left: Ashley Stephens, Darren Yates-Badley, Ian Reid, John Averis
Four firefighters died in the warehouse blaze

Several firefighters are facing arrest over a warehouse fire in Warwickshire in which four of their colleagues were killed, a union has said.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it had been told three will be questioned under caution over allegations of gross negligence manslaughter.

The blaze happened in Atherstone-on-Stour in November 2007. All four firemen killed were from Warwickshire.

A joint police and Health and Safety Executive inquiry is taking place.

Told by letter

The bodies of Ashley Stephens, 20, John Averis, 27, and Darren Yates-Badley, 24, were found inside the remains of the building, a vegetable packing plant, days after the fire.

Ian Reid, 44, died in hospital.

The FBU said three members of Warwickshire Fire Service had been told, by letter, to attend a police station in Warwickshire where they will be arrested and interviewed under caution.

FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said it was important for families and colleagues of those who died to establish what happened and that lessons be learnt from the incident.

But he added he was concerned that people were being arrested "when other key players have not even been interviewed".

"Evidence from our own ongoing investigation suggests there may be systemic failings," he said.

'Many interviewed'

"Any systemic failing within Warwickshire fire service, if they are established, would be the responsibility of the fire authority," he said.

Warwickshire Police said the investigation was still continuing and that many people had been interviewed, including fire personnel and Wealmoor employees working at the plant on the day of the fire.

"We have not yet completed the interview process and expect it to continue for a number of months," a spokeswoman said.

"We cannot confirm any details about personnel involved in the process."

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