Manchester fire: Two teens arrested after firefighter dies

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Media captionThe operation to tackle the fire was described as "particularly difficult"

Two 15-year-old girls have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after a firefighter was killed tackling a blaze in Manchester.

Stephen Hunt was among 60 firefighters called to the fire in the store-room of Paul's Hair World in Oldham Street.

A spokesman said the 38-year-old got into difficulty at about 20:35 BST along with another firefighter and both were taken to hospital.

Mr Hunt, a father-of-two, was based at Manchester's Philips Park Fire Station.

He was confirmed dead in hospital.

The other injured firefighter is not thought to have life-threatening injuries, a Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said.

Image caption Stephen Hunt was based at Manchester's Philips Park Fire Station

'Dedicated firefighter'

Eight crews remain at the hair products supply business, where the fire broke out at about 14:50 BST in the underground store-room.

Two members of staff were taken to hospital after they tried to tackle the blaze themselves. One suffered burns and another the effects of smoke inhalation.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was still smouldering, but crews had brought it under control.

Parts of Tib Street and Oldham Street, along with several other roads in the area, remain closed.

The fire service said the blaze had been particularly difficult to tackle because of the complex layout of the building and the amount of material inside.

County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk said: "We are devastated by the loss of one of our colleagues who has died in the line of duty.

"We never expect to lose a colleague in this way and it brings home the dangers that our firefighters put themselves in every day to keep the community safe.

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Media captionSteve McGuirk, from the fire service, said Stephen Hunt's death had left his colleagues ''devastated''

"Stephen had been a dedicated firefighter since 2008 and we are all in a state of shock."

'Professionalism and courage'

An investigation is being carried out in conjunction with the police to establish the cause of the blaze.

The Merseyside and Lancashire fire services are expected to lead an investigation into the circumstances around Mr Hunt's death.

Firefighters remain at the scene tackling the blaze and Mr McGuirk paid tribute to their "professionalism, courage and dedication" while "mourning" their colleague's death.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: "There is a great feeling of solidarity amongst firefighters as a result of the job that they do and the risks that they face and this will be keenly felt by firefighters across the UK and indeed internationally."

Image caption Staff from the hair products company have laid flowers at the scene

Vij Randeniya, president of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said: "We are all devastated by the news.

"We offer our sincere condolences to Stephen's family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."

Bob Williams, acting chief executive of North West Ambulance Services NHS Trust, said: "To lose a member of staff whilst they are on duty serving the community is one of the greatest fears across all emergency services."

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