Fire kills two firefighters in Belgium

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Firefighters from across Belgium paid their respects to the two firemen who died fighting a blaze in Ukkel on Saturday.

1 September 2008

BELGIUM -- A book of condolence has been opened at the Brussels Fire Service's main fire station on the Helihavenlaan after two firemen died fighting a blaze in Ukkel in Greater Brussels on Saturday afternoon.

The two firefighters who died in the line of duty are 55-year-old Corporal Tacqueniere from Grimbergen (Flemish Brabant) and 35 year old Sergeant Batselier from Anderlecht (Greater Brussels).

On Saturday afternoon, the fire brigade was called to fight a fire at a disused sport centre on the Dieweg in Ukkel. The fire spread quickly and dozens of streets in the area were cordoned off. The intense heat caused an explosion, killing two firemen at the scene.

A female firefighter was able to escape the flames. She is currently being treated in hospital for severe shoulder injuries.

Almost the entire building was destroyed in the fire.

The blaze was first reported by a member of staff at the neighbouring tennis club. The tennis club manages the site on behalf of the company Deelens.

Authorities are investigating to find out what caused the fire.

The Mayor of Ukkel Armand De Decker (Francophone liberal) and the Greater Brussels Minister responsible for the fire service Benoit Cerexhe (Francophone Christian democrat) have paid tribute to the bravery of the dead and injured firefighters.

The fire service has offered counselling to the families and colleagues of the victims.

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