Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Memorial service held for Hampshire firefighters

A memorial service has been held for two firefighters who died in a flat fire in Southampton.

James Shears, 35, died alongside Alan Bannon, 38, from heat exposure in the 15-storey Shirley Towers on 6 April.

A memorial to fallen firefighters was unveiled at a ceremony preceding the Winchester Cathedral service.

The stone has been inscribed with the names of the 60 Hampshire firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty over the past 110 years.

It was laid at the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service headquarters in Eastleigh at 1130 BST and was followed by the cathedral service, which was open to the public.

Police investigation

Alan House, Hampshire fire service's former deputy chief fire officer, arranged both services.

He said: "This memorial was due to be unveiled on 30th of April. That then coincided with the funeral of Jim Shears.

Image caption Both firefighters served with Red Watch and had young families

"So even more poignant that in the lead-up to that memorial being unveiled we had two more [deaths], which is something of course I hoped would never ever happen."

A police investigation is still under way into the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

The funeral of Mr Bannon was held at St Mary's Church in Southampton, where he lived, on 27 April while Mr Shears' funeral was held at St George's Church in Oakdale in his hometown of Poole, Dorset, on 30 April.

The occupants of the Shirley Towers flat where the fire started told the BBC it was caused by a curtain left draped over a lightbulb.

The firefighters were both found unconscious by paramedics in a flat on the ninth floor of the tower block and Mr Bannon was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Shears was taken to Southampton General Hospital and despite attempts to revive him he died two hours later.

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