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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 May, 2004, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Fatal city store fire remembered
The Woolworths store fire in Manchester
The fire began in the furniture department of the store
A fire which swept through a Manchester store killing 10 was being remembered on Saturday, 25 years after the tragedy.

The disaster led to a major shake-up in UK fire laws after it was revealed foam fillings in furniture at the store made the situation much worse.

At the time, on 8 May 1979, the Woolworths store blaze was the city's worst fire disaster since World War II.

The changes in legislation are believed to have saved thousands of lives since.

Kevin Brown, who was working at the time the call came in, said he cannot forget the scene crews were met with at the time.

He told BBC GMR: "People were screaming and shouting from the roof of the store, and there were also people trapped behind bars at the back of the store in Piccadilly.

A member of staff being rescued from a window
Some staff were trapped behind barred windows
"We got the aerial ladder up to rescue the people from the roof.

"The fire was so intense, but a number of us got in to the building to rescue people trapped inside. We had to cut through the barred windows to get to some people, which was very difficult at the time."

Fire consultant Bob Graham, who was involved in the investigation in to the fire, said it led to a lot of changes that have prevented similar tragedies.

"[It led] to the requirements that came upon owners of stores to train their staff what to do in event of fire," he said.

"There was also the announcement of sprinklers as a requirement in large retail stores and of course the controls on the fillings of upholstery furniture.

"All of that came as a direct result of the Woolworths fire, so a great deal of good has come out of a very tragic event."




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