Soldier tells inquest how colleagues died in Camp Bastion tent fire

Daily Echo: Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

A SOLDIER has described how he could hear his name being called by one of his colleagues who perished in a fire that ripped through their tent at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

Private Sikeli Ratu told an inquest how he was woken by the smell of smoke and as he fled to raise the alarm the flames took hold of the canvas tent.

Privates Rob Wood, 28, from Marchwood, and Dean Hutchinson, 23, from County Durham, were killed when fire swept through the Transport Troop tent in the early hours of February 14, 2011.

Pte Ratu told the inquest: “Once the fire reached the sides of the tent it travelled quickly. The flames had got to the point in the tent where they were sleeping. Hutch was calling my name.”

He said after running out of the tent he looked back but could not see anything because of the thick smoke.

Asked to describe what was going through his mind at the time, he replied: “I was lost and I couldn’t think straight.”

The hearing in Salisbury has heard how the soldiers, who served with the Royal Logistic Corps, were sleeping in the tent so they could respond more quickly when vital supplies arrived at the military base in Helmand Province.

Fire investigators have concluded that the blaze started in the vicinity of the electrical appliances and quickly spread, igniting combustible materials stored nearby.

Pte Wood, known as “Woody”, had become a father to a boy, Noah, shortly before he died.

He was a driver port operator, posted to 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, based at Marchwood.

Proceeding.

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