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Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2006, 20:13 GMT
Fireman funeral after depot blast
Brian Wembridge and Geoff Wicker
Cameraman Brian Wembridge and sub-officer Geoff Wicker were killed
Roads will close on Tuesday for the funeral of one of the firemen killed in a blaze at a fireworks depot near Lewes, East Sussex, two weeks ago.

Family and friends of Brian Wembridge, 63, will attend a private service at All Saints Church, Crowborough.

His coffin will be carried through the centre of the town, accompanied by a procession of fire engines.

The cause of the fire and explosion at Festival fireworks UK Ltd in Shortgate is under investigation.

Mr Wembridge worked at Crowborough Fire Station and lived in the town.

People will gather outside the church where the service will be relayed on video screens.

Tributes paid

The funeral cortege is expected to leave the fire station at 1030 GMT, with the service starting at 1100 GMT.

The A26 will close briefly as the cortege passes through, and Church Road will close from 0900 GMT to 1330 GMT.

Fire service staff on duty during the funeral will observe a minute's silence at 1100 GMT.

Retired fire officer Mr Wembridge, of Poundfield Road, was one of the first on the scene of the fireworks blaze.

He had been re-employed to give support at fires.

Geoff Wicker, 49, a retained fire officer and control room staff member also died in the incident on 3 December.

Tribute at Crowborough Fire Station
Tributes to the dead firefighters were laid at Crowborough

His funeral is due to take place in Mayfield, East Sussex, on Thursday.

The firefighters were the first to die on duty in England and Wales this year.

Chief Fire Officer Des Pritchard said he believed they were the first in East Sussex for three decades.

After the deaths, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it had been "overwhelmed by the messages of kindness, support and empathy" it had received, while books of condolences were opened and a memorial fund set up.

In the House of Commons, Prime Minister Tony Blair said the firefighters had "died protecting their community".

Twelve other people were injured, including nine firefighters and a police officer.

The blast was so big it was heard 12 miles away.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a huge mushroom cloud of smoke and explosions of fireworks which sent debris through the air.


SEE ALSO
Probe held before firework blast
13 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties
Inquests open on firework victims
12 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties
Fireworks cause blast site hazard
11 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties
PM tribute to fire blast victims
06 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties
Blaze photographer killed in fire
04 Dec 06 |  Southern Counties

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