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of the British Broadcasting Corporation



Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 19:59 GMT
Bodies found in fire crew search

Search teams looking for three missing firefighters after a warehouse fire in Warwickshire believe they have found all three bodies, police have said.

Earlier firefighters said they were sure they had found one body and that the search would continue until all the missing firefighters were retrieved.

One firefighter died after being pulled from the wreckage of Friday's fire in Atherstone-on-Stour.

Crews have been hampered by the state of the building, which is perilous.

With weather conditions set to deteriorate and worsening conditions within the warehouse building, we believe we have a limited time
John Hall
Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue

Fire crews were ordered out of the vegetable plant building at lunchtime on Tuesday after strong winds caused part of the warehouse to start moving.

Special monitoring equipment has been put in place around it to check for any movement. A steel girder fell during the search on Monday.

Jon Hall, deputy chief officer for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue, said: "With weather conditions set to deteriorate and worsening conditions within the warehouse building, we believe we have a limited time left to safely recover our colleague discovered earlier today."

Stratford-based firefighter Ian Reid, 44, died in hospital after being pulled from the wreckage on Friday.

The three missing men are Darren Yates-Badley, Ashley Stephens and John Averis.

Firefighters have been carrying out an inch by inch search of the huge building, the size of four football pitches, but have been hampered by its perilous state.

Mr Ranger added that fire crews were now about 20 to 30 metres inside the building.

He said he was "astounded by the commitment" shown by crews at the site and said he had been approached by "endless crews asking to stay on" who wanted to take part in the rescue and retrieval operation.

Tributes laid

Police forensic teams are also inside the warehouse investigating the cause of the fire, which is being treated as suspicious, and items are being removed for analysis.

Chief Supt Ken Lawrence, of Warwickshire Police, said the inquiry into the fire would be "lengthy and detailed".

He said detectives would need to identify all of the staff who worked at the vegetable packing plant, and interview about 200 firefighters who had dealt with the blaze.

"It is progressing quite speedily and I am quite content with that at the moment," he said.

Outside Alcester Fire Station, where two of the firefighters were based, candles have been lit and floral tributes laid.