UK probe marks anniversary of 4 LODDs in warehouse fire

By Emma Stone
The Coventry Evening Telegraph

AHTERSTONE, England — Police investigating a warehouse blaze which killed four fire-fighters, are still searching for answers — two years on.

As the second anniversary of the fatal fire in Atherstone on Stour is marked, a dedicated team of police are continuing to work full-time on the case in a bid to discover why Ashley Stephens, Darren Yates-Badley, John Averis and Ian Reid lost their lives.

The men were among many firefighters who had gone into the burning building, believing warehouse staff were trapped, on November 2, 2007.

Following the fatal fire, a joint investigation between Warwickshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive was launched to establish the cause of the fire and, if criminal, who was responsible.

So far more than 2,570 witness statements have been taken, involving eleven different nationalities.

During the inquiry, Warwickshire Police has commissioned a series of specialist reports from scientific experts in order to closely examine techniques and provide expertise. These have included a detailed technical examination of the building and forensic examination of fire activity in order to understand what happened in the warehouse on the night of the fire.

Using innovative computer programming, the investigation team has also been able to re-create a virtual three-dimensional plan of the warehouse, c enabling the team to plot timelines for the development of the fire and the actions of the people involved.

The cost of the investigation is currently pounds 4.1 million.

In October 2008 Central Government provided funding of pounds 3 million to cover the costs at that time and Warwickshire Police Authority will be looking to approach the Home Office for additional funding.

Detective Superintendent Ken Lawrence, who has led the investigation from the start, said: "The focus of the investigation is and always has been to establish the cause of the fire and find out why four fire fighters lost their lives at the warehouse fire in November 2007. Warwickshire Police has a duty to those men, to their families and to the coroner to establish the facts.

"The second anniversary of the fire is clearly a difficult time for all those involved but especially for the families of the fire fighters who died, and we continue to liaise closely with them and update them on every stage of the investigation."

Four people were arrested in connection with the fire at the vegetable packing plant on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life in May this year.

The three men and one woman, who are believed to be Polish, were released from their bail in August.

Copyright 2009 Coventry Newspapers Limited
All Rights Reserved

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