Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Shirley Towers repair work 'months away' after fire

Fire damage still remains at Shirley Towers
Image caption Scaffolding is due to be erected from the ground floor up to the level of the flat above the fire

Repairs to a block of flats damaged by a fire which killed two firemen are not likely to be completed until May 2011.

James Shears, 35 and Alan Bannon, 38, died while tackling the blaze which started on the ninth floor of Shirley Towers, Southampton, in April.

Six months since the tragedy, the BBC has learnt council repair work had been put on hold after the original contractor went into administration.

A police and fire service investigation into the fire continues.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) also started an inquiry into the deaths of the two men following the fire, which started just after 2000 BST on 6 April.

Memorial fund

Unsightly external fire damage to the 15-storey building, including burn marks and damaged windows, is still visible to passers-by.

Although cleaning of individual flats is ongoing, works to communal areas are complete.

Southampton City Council said the flat where the fire broke out would receive "substantial concrete refurbishment".

Image caption Post-mortem tests showed the two firefighters died as a result of exposure to excessive heat

Two surrounding flats are also set to receive some concrete refurbishment.

Scaffolding is due to be erected to the level of the flat above the fire to replace damaged windows by December.

It is anticipated work will begin in November which is expected to be complete May 2011.

Of those families dispersed by the fire all but one has been permanently rehoused.

A memorial fund was set up in memory of the two firefighters who died.

Mr Shears, of Poole, Dorset, and Mr Bannon, from Bitterne, Southampton, were discovered in flat 72 on the ninth floor.

Post-mortem tests showed they died as a result of exposure to excessive heat.

The flat's occupants, Kirsty and Karl Hoffman, said the fire started when a curtain left draped over a lightbulb caught fire.

Hampshire Constabulary is investigating the deaths under the provisions of the Health and Safety Act.

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