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  1. ITV Report

Firefighters who died in Dudgeon's Wharf disaster honoured

A red plaque has been unveiled at the site where five firefighters and one civilian were killed in an explosion fifty years ago.

The Dudgeon's Wharf disaster killed more firefighters than any other single event in London since the Second World War.

The plaque was unveiled to honor the London firefighters who died in the Dudgeon's Wharf disaster

Firefighters Michael Gamble, Alfred Smee, John Appleby, Terrance Breen and Trevor Carvosso, and construction worker Richard Adams, were all killed when an oil tank exploded on the Isle of Dogs in 1969.

When fire broke out in the tank firefighters were called. But as they had no idea what the tanks contained, and no warning of the dangers, an order was given for a demolition worker to cut through the bottom of the tank to allow further access.

It is thought a spark from the cutting equipment, combined with the flammable vapours inside, led to the fatal explosion.

The site in 1969 Credit: London Fire Brigade
Former firefighters attended the unveiling of the plaque in Millwall

As a result of the explosion the Hazchem Code was introduced in the 1970s, to make sure hazardous materials are properly labelled.

Fireman Terrance Breen's son Terry, who was five when his father was killed, said:

It's a very proud day. Long after we've gone he will be remembered, and it's important to us that there is a memorial that will be here forever.

His memory will live on, not just with us but with everyone who sees it.

– Terry Breen, Terrance Breen's son

The Brigade's Assistant Commissioner Andy Roe said:

As a Brigade, it is so important that we take the time to remember lives lost and acts of bravery by firefighters. This incident and the tragic deaths it caused led to significant changes to the way we deal with chemical incidents to ensure the safety of firefighters.

– Andy Roe, London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner
London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton spoke at the unveiling