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of the British Broadcasting Corporation



Friday, 9 November 2007, 19:59 GMT
Firefighters' fund hits £65,000

A fund set up to provide financial support to the families of four firefighters killed in a warehouse blaze has raised more than £65,000.

Warwickshire Firefighters Family Fund was set up after last Friday's fire in Atherstone on Stour.

Around £11,000 was contributed by 450 people to the online fund and an auction on Virgin Radio's Christian O'Connell's show raised £54,500.

Posters will advertise the fund which will also be used for a memorial.

Councillor Richard Hobbs, of Warwickshire County Council, said: "We are delighted with the response so far from the public, not just in Warwickshire, but across the world who have been touched by this tragedy.

"The fund has been established for those who wish to make a contribution to go directly to the families of the firefighters involved. The fund will also help to provide a fitting memorial at a later date."

Poster campaign

Firefighter Ian Reid, 44, died in hospital on Friday night after being pulled from the fire.

The bodies of Darren Yates-Badley, 24, Ashley Stephens, 20, and 27-year-old John Averis were given a guard of honour when they were taken out of the wreckage on Tuesday night after a four-day search.

The council added that posters would be put up around the county, in places such as shops, leisure centres and libraries to raise awareness about the fund.

Christian O'Connell's breakfast show raised cash for the fund by getting listeners to bid to have the presenter broadcast from their homes or offices.

The highest bidders were brewers Guinness and publishers HarperCollins.

Extensive investigation

The show will now be broadcast from the brewer's Dublin factory in December, with representatives from the publishers present.

Police have said that investigations into the cause of the warehouse fire could take weeks.

Four fire crews were at the scene on Friday night within minutes of the alarm being raised by employees.

Police have said there were 50 people at the site of the blaze when the first fire crews arrived.

More than 100 officers are taking part in the investigation and plan to interview everyone who was at the scene.