Two teenage girls arrested in connection with Manchester blaze that killed fireman Stephen Hunt

Firefighter Stephen Hunt was part of a team responding to a fire at Paul's Hair World in Oldham Street

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The Independent Online

Police have arrested two 15-year-olds on suspicion of manslaughter after a firefighter was killed tackling a blaze in a hair salon in Manchester.

Stephen Hunt, 38, was part of a team responding to a fire at Paul's Hair World in Oldham Street, Manchester, when he and a colleague got into difficulties on Saturday.

He and a colleague were pulled out of the building where they were treated at the scene before being taken to hospital.

Mr Hunt, a father of two teenagers who had worked as  a firefighter since 2008, was declared dead shortly after arrival. His colleague remains in hospital though his condition is understood not to be life-threatening.

Emergency services were called to the fire just before 3pm on Saturday. Less than an hour later 12 crews, comprising more than 60 firefighters, were tackling the blaze.

Steve McGuirk, the County Fire Officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said the crews believed they had got the blaze control by about 8.30pm but for an unknown reason, a "BA emergency" was declared – which is a signal to evacuate the building.

It was then that Hunt and his colleague were pulled from the building. It is believed Mr Hunt had been enveloped by some kind of “super heat”.

Mr McGuirk added: “The firefighters are clearly devastated by the loss of their colleague and I pay tribute to their professionalism, courage and dedication – while in mourning they are continuing to keep the community safe."

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said: "A joint investigation into the cause of the fire is underway and two 15-year-old girls have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter".

Detective Superintendent Phil Owen said: "We are working with our colleagues from the fire service to establish how this fire, which has tragically claimed the life of a fire fighter, started.

"We have already arrested two juveniles in connection with the fire and our enquiries are continuing.”

A spokeswoman for Paul's Hair World said: "We are greatly saddened to learn that fireman Stephen Hunt lost his life tackling the blaze at our Manchester shop yesterday.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and the Greater Manchester fire service at this difficult and sad time."