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Archive for Sunday, November 24, 2002

5 die during firefighter strike

November 24, 2002

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— Five people died and the home of a striking firefighter was hit by a suspected arson attack as firefighters continued their national walkout Saturday.

Soldiers manned antiquated fire trucks and firefighters stood on picket lines as politicians and union leaders traded blame for the strike that has hobbled Britain's fire service.

Troops and their military outdated "Green Goddess" engines were called to several serious blazes, filling in for 50,000 firefighters who walked off the job Friday morning.

A 27-year-old man died in a house fire in Eccles, south of London - the first fatal fire of the strike. A military team at the scene was joined by striking firefighters who left their picket line to battle the blaze.

Another man died in what police described as a suspicious fire at his home in Earlsdon, central England. Two Green Goddesses arrived within five minutes of receiving the call.

Army firefighters also were called to a house fire in Liverpool, northern England, in which an elderly woman died, and a blaze in a mobile home in Blackpool, northwest England, in which a man died.

A fourth man died in a house fire in Woodstock, north of London. Nonstriking firefighters dealt with the blaze.

The wife and two children of a striking firefighter escaped unhurt after a lighted paper was pushed through the front door of their home in Kenilworth, central England. The family was alerted by smoke alarms. Detectives are investigating the incident.

The firefighters began an eight-day strike to back their demand for a hefty pay increase after last-minute talks with local authorities broke down early Friday.

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