The Inspector came over and asked who amongst us had five years or more service. One of the other lads and myself put our hands up. The Inspector said: “Sorry lads I need you to be Body Officers. We have a crime scene and we need to start sorting it for continuity”.
The Serious Incident box turned up and we were given brown labels with string on them. We were told to go into the stand, record where the bodies lay and tag them. The problem was they were burnt so badly we couldn’t tie the labels to anything. We found bodies in the main stand at all the different levels but mainly at the back near block G. They were also quite spaced out. As we got to the end of the stand I was talking to a fireman, I said how lucky we had been to have such few bodies. He told me we hadn’t been into the turnstiles yet, at the back of the stand.
We went into the first turnstile and it was like a horror show. Kids stood up holding the rails. Bodies on top of others where they had tried to get over one another to get out. There was a mass of bodies in each Turnstile. Some were badly burned, others just charred and you could make out clothing, they had died from smoke inhalation. They were all piled on top of one another. Most were laid against the Turnstile doors where they had tried to get out. From the other side of the doors people had tried to open them. They had used anything they could find to try and break them down, but the fucking doors had been locked shut. No one knew where the keys were, and so they were trapped.
My colleague and I counted as many as we could, and roughly drew them in situation. I found out later that we did not need to do this because it was videoed by Crime Scene technicians. But we had been told to do it. It’s certainly a job I would have preferred to have avoided.
After we had finished we went to the Director`s lounge, where they had set up a temporary control room. We were given, and gulped Whiskey. I hate the bloody stuff but had three good swigs. We handed the paperwork in and then we were checked over by an ambulance man. He insisted that we were taken to the A&E at the Bradford Royal Infirmary. We were checked over and released. We were diagnosed as being in shock and I had slight burns to my chest and abdomen.
I went home because it was my sister`s birthday, and we were having a family event. My dad rang me and asked me if I had been at the game. I broke down in tears and told him all about it. I couldn’t go to the do. It was all over the news and you could not get away from it.
The following day, it was a Sunday. I was off duty and it was still all over the news, I couldn’t believe what had happened. The numbers of dead was increasing by the hour. Film crews were at the ground and in the city centre. People were walking around the ground in shock, laying flowers there. Players were interviewed and a press conference was held by the Police and Fire. No one from the club management would be interviewed.
Some scumbag reporter made a very public claim that he had been in the stand. He stated that someone had thrown an incendiary device, which had definitely started the fire. This threw the investigation off track for ages. It was eventually proved beyond a doubt that rubbish underneath the stand had accidentally caught fire, and that was the cause of the tragedy. The reporter had lied. He was later made a right fool of, and thankfully never heard from again.
I was called at home on the Monday morning to see if I was okay. I reported in at 2pm and did a normal shift. The town was in total mourning, everyone, everywhere, was down and out. News crews were still everywhere trying to get an angle. We were told, under no circumstances could we comment.
On the Thursday, I was on day shift; we were sent up to the gym on the third floor. We were told that we were going to meet Neil Kinnock. Nothing against him like but that was the last thing I wanted to do. I was not in a good place. I had been suddenly breaking down crying, and for what I thought was no reason. I was also having a recurring dream about Gargoyles on the Town Hall bursting into flames. He came in and made a sort of speech to us all. He shook some hands and left after a very few minutes with the bosses. Phew!
The incident room was in full swing. In a short time they had identified everyone who had been killed. There were still some in Hospital looking likely to prove fatal. The eventual number of people who died that day was fifty-six. They had taken statements from hundreds of people and mapped the whole day, and what had happened, in real time.
Because the TV cameras had been there and filmed the whole thing the film of the incident was real. It was very good quality and in depth. I have watched it back only once. That was when I made my statement to a member of the enquiry team. Whilst making my statement I had to identify myself on the film, as the whole horror played out.
The fallout from this fire was enormous. Not only were there fifty-six people dead, and they had just gone to a football match, but the football club and the city was on its knees. People were just so shocked. A real sense of bereavement pervaded throughout.
[The concluding Part will be published here tomorrow.]