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Brave firefighter who raced towards the Silvertown explosion

PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 January 2017

Fireman Frederick Sell with his youngest son Sydney outside the family home, one of the firemen's cottages in Fort Street which were destroyed in the explosion

Fireman Frederick Sell with his youngest son Sydney outside the family home, one of the firemen's cottages in Fort Street which were destroyed in the explosion

Archant

When workers and their families were frantically rushing away from the dangers, Silvertown Fire Station’s staff headed straight towards the flames.

Frederick Sell whose daughter Winifred died along with her father during the explosion Frederick Sell whose daughter Winifred died along with her father during the explosion

One firefighter who made the ultimate sacrifice was Frederick Sell.

A father of six, Frederick was one of two firefighters who lost their lives as a result of the explosion which followed the fire.

His daughter, 15-year-old Winifred, also died as a result of injuries caused by the blast.

Frederick’s grandson, David Sell, who lives in Wotton in Norfolk, continued: “I think she had a broken back.

“The effects of the explosion went on for years and years,” he said.

For David, as a boy, discovering what happened to his granddad, who was posthumously awarded the King’s Police medal and West Ham Fire Brigade medal for his bravery, was not easy with his family keeping it from him.

“They kept it bottled up in the hopes it would go away,” the 80-year-old added.

After discovering what happened, David feels strongly about his grandfather’s sacrifice.

“I feel proud, but I feel it’s sad because it’s something that shouldn’t have happened.

“All the firemen knew what the risks were. They knew what might happen and they didn’t run away from it,” he said.

“It was sheer, bloody courage.”

Plaistow fire fighter Mark Young, who has been in the service for 30 years, added: “I imagine it must have been very difficult because they must have known people who worked there.

“It’s a lot easier to do the job when you’re slightly removed because you need to concentrate on what you’re doing,” the 53-year-old father of two explained.

“They were brave, courageous men.”

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