Charity evening for Southampton firefighters

Image caption, Both firefighters served with Red Watch and had young families

A fundraising event in memory of two firefighters killed in a fire at a block of flats in Southampton has taken place.

James Shears, 35, died alongside colleague Alan Bannon, 38, in the 15-storey Shirley Towers on 6 April.

Comedian Jim Davidson hosted the show at Southampton's Mayflower Theatre and money raised will go to the James Shears and Alan Bannon Memorial Fund.

A memorial service is planned for the men at Winchester Cathedral in July.

Davidson said the firefighters were from the same team who rescued him and his wife Michelle when they became trapped in a lift one New Year's Eve in the city.

Also appearing was Bobby Davro and Jethro.

Investigation continues

The comedian said he was so moved by the news that the two firemen, from St Mary's Red Watch, lost their lives in the line of duty that he contacted the theatre to see what could be done.

Image caption, Jim Davidson was joined by many other stars in the show

He later found out from the fire service that the team had also been responsible for rescuing him.

He said he and Michelle became stuck in a block of flats at about 0100 GMT after a night out at a restaurant in Southampton around five years ago.

He said: "As a community we rely on these brave men and women.

"Although we all know the dangers that they face every day, it is a shocking and salutary reminder when something like this happens."

Mr Shears lived in Poole, Dorset, with his wife Carla and two young sons while Mr Bannon lived in Bitterne, Southampton, and had a young daughter.

A fire service and police investigation is continuing into how the fire started and how the men died.

The occupants of flat 72, where the fire started, told the BBC it was caused by a curtain left draped over a lightbulb.

The firefighters were both found unconscious by paramedics in a flat on the ninth floor of the tower block and Mr Bannon was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Shears was taken to Southampton General Hospital and died there two hours later, despite attempts to revive him.

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