No charges against four arrested over blaze which killed Warwickshire firemen
Aug 19 2009 By Tom Lowe, Press Association
Four people arrested in connection with a warehouse blaze that claimed the lives of four firefighters have been released without charge, police said today.
Ashley Stephens, 20, Darren Yates-Badley, 24, John Averis, 27, and 44-year-old Ian Reid died while battling the flames in Atherstone on Stour, Warwickshire, in November 2007.
Three men and one woman were arrested in May at addresses in Birmingham, Smethwick and Evesham, Worcestershire, on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.
But Warwickshire Police said all four had been discharged following further inquiries and after answering bail. A spokesman said they faced no charges.
The fire, which struck on November 2, raged for more than five hours at the vegetable-packing factory, causing parts of the roof to collapse.
Sixteen fire engines and more than 80 firefighters were called to the scene.
Mr Reid was pulled from the charred remains of the factory alive, but died in hospital later that night. It took a few more days to find the bodies of the remaining three men.
Speaking at the time, Warwickshire Chief Fire Officer William Brown said he was "deeply shocked" by the "catastrophic" events, adding: "This has been the worst night in my 30 years' service."
Thousands of firefighters from around the UK joined friends and family for the funerals of all four men.
At the service for John Averis, in Tredington, near Shipston-on-Stour, the 27-year-old was described as "brave and passionate".
Mr Reid, from Stratford-upon-Avon, was praised as a "thoughtful and caring man", committed to his wife Julie and daughter Sophie at his funeral a few days later.
More than 400 colleagues of fanatical Manchester United supporter Ashley Stephens gathered in his home town of Alcester, Warwickshire, to pay tribute to the 20-year-old's bravery.
A few days later, Mr Yates-Badley's wife Fay paid her last respects to "the love of my life", describing him as a "kind and caring man" at an emotional funeral service.
An investigation by Warwickshire Police and the Health and Safety Executive into the devastating fire is continuing.
Last year the inquiry revealed officers were not given enough information before attending the scene. As a result, an improvement notice was issued to Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.