Family express guilt over firemen deaths in their home

A couple have expressed their feelings of guilt for the fire that ripped through their flat, killing two firemen.

Karl and Kirsty Hoffmann said they felt responsible for the deaths and praised the bravery of the dead men. "I blame myself for their deaths," Mrs Hoffmann said. "It was because our curtains were on fire that they went into the flat and didn't come back."

Her husband added: "I feel sorry for their families. They were very brave to go in there and they didn't deserve to die. I'm devastated." James Shears, 35, and Alan Bannon, 38, were among the first at the scene of the fire at Shirley Towers, in Church Street, Southampton, on Tuesday. A post-mortem examination revealed they died from exposure to excessive heat.

They were members of Red Watch at St Mary's Fire Station and are thought to have been found unconscious on the ninth floor of the 15-storey 1960s-built block. One died at the scene and the other in hospital.

A joint fire service and police investigation is underway to establish the cause of the fire in Flat 72. It is thought the fire might have started when a curtain was left over a light bulb. Two other firefighters suffered burns to their hands fighting the blaze. A date is yet to be set for the opening of the inquests into the deaths.

Southampton City Council said a risk assessment had been carried out at the property, adding that further inspections took place after six people died in a fire at a tower block in Camberwell, south-east London, last July.

John Bonney, chief officer of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "These two men risked their lives to save those of others and as a result gave their own." Mr Bannon, from Southampton, was married and had a five-year-old daughter, Abigail, with his wife Charlotte. He joined Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2001. His mother Margaret said in a statement: "Alan was an incredible person and managed to cram a massive amount into a short life."

Mr Shears, known as Jim, lived in Poole, Dorset, with his wife Carla and two sons, aged four and five. Carla paid tribute to him in a statement: "Jim was the most wonderful dad and husband. He had always wanted to be a firefighter and was truly our hero."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate