Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 12:12 UK

Southampton firemen died from excessive heat exposure

Firefighters James Shears and Alan Bannon
James Shears and Alan Bannon were both fathers

Two firefighters killed tackling a blaze at a Southampton tower block died as a result of exposure to excessive heat, post-mortem tests have shown.

James Shears, 35, from Poole in Dorset, and Alan Bannon, 38, from Bitterne in Southampton, died at Shirley Towers on Tuesday night.

Both men served with Red Watch at St Mary's Fire Station in the city.

An investigation is continuing into the cause of the fire at the 15-storey building in Church Street.

The post-mortem examinations were carried out by Home Office pathologist Dr Huw White at Winchester Hospital on Thursday.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service chief officer John Bonney said: "These two men risked their lives to save those of others and as a result gave their own.

Fire personnel laid wreaths at Shirley Towers

"I would like to express my sincerest condolences to James' and Alan's families, as well as to their friends and colleagues within the service. They will be sadly missed by us all."

Southampton City Council said a risk assessment had been carried out at the property.

It said that further inspections took place after six people died in a fire at a tower block in Camberwell, south London, last July.

Tributes have continued to be paid to both men.

Zahir Ahmed, from the Southampton Central Mosque, which is next to the fire station, said: "We went on Thursday to lay the flowers and, on behalf of the Southampton Muslim community, we want to show our sympathy and condolences with the families.

'Wonderful dad'

"We are neighbours to these guys and we work closely with them on lots of different issues.

"In terms of the community we feel for the families and everyone else."

The wife of Mr Shears, who had two young sons, said he was "the most wonderful dad and husband".

The mother of Mr Bannon, who had a young daughter, said they had "lost a caring father, a loving son".

Two other firefighters suffered burns to their hands in the blaze which started shortly after 2000 BST.

All residents in the flats were rescued.

The Fire Brigades Union said it would begin its own inquiry into the deaths of the two men.

The precise details of how the men died have not yet been released.

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