Racing in shock as apprentice jockeys are killed in blaze; Local man arrested after two apprentices die in fire.
THE shock and grief of one of racing's most tightly knit communities was yesterday felt by the entire sport following the death of two apprentice jockeys in a fire that police believe was started deliberately.
Although two riders survived the early morning blaze at a block of flats in Norton, close to the Malton training centre in North Yorkshire, two others perished in a blaze, the effects of which were so severe that police and firefighters spent much of yesterday struggling to reach the victims.
The identity of the dead riders quickly became known to those working in the sport. However, at the request of North Yorkshire Police, the Racing Post is not naming them until their relatives have been informed and further investigations have been carried out.
The North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was first informed of the incident at 2.12am, with emergency vehicles on site ten minutes later.
Around 35 firefighters attempted to extinguish the flames, which are not thought to have originated in the third-floor flat in which the four jockeys lived. The two survivors jumped from windows to safety and were later treated at York District Hospital, from where one was later discharged. A local man in his thirties was later arrested in connection with the blaze. Racecourses yesterday paid their respects to the victims. Silent tributes of various lengths took place at those tracks racing, where jockeys all wore black armbands. York racecourse flew its flags at half mast, while Kevin Darley, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys' Association, said: "To lose two very talented young riders in these circumstances is tragic." A North Yorkshire Police statement released at 4.25pm read: "Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service remain at the scene of a serious fire in Buckrose Court, Norton, in Malton, which occurred in the early hours of this morning, Saturday, September 5. "Two people have died as a result of the fire, although at this stage we are unable to give any indication of who the deceased are.
The intensity of the fire has caused substantial structural damage to the building, including the stairwell, making it unsafe to enter. This has delayed the recovery operation and we are therefore still unable to confirm any further details of the deceased at this time. "Two people remain unaccountedfor, but until access is gained and a full search has been carried out, we are unable to confirm if there are any further casualties. "Two men in their early twenties were taken to York District Hospital, where they were treated for smoke inhalation and minor burns. One man has been discharged and the other remains in hospital, although his injuries are not believed to be lifethreatening. "A structural inspection has been carried out and we are currently mobilising the necessary equipment to gain access to the property. Crimescene investigators are working alongside colleagues from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to establish the exact cause of the fire.
"At present, the fire is being treated as suspicious and a local man in his thirties has been arrested and is currently assisting police with the investigation, although our inquiries are in the early stages and we are still unable to confirm the cause and circumstances of the fire. "Police are appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time of the fire and who saw anything suspicious, or anyone who has any information, to get in touch. Please contact North Yorkshire Police on 0845 6060247 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."Superintendent Steve Tarn, the police officer leading the investigation, added: "At this moment in time, the police are treating the blaze as suspicious and are asking for help from the community of Norton and Malton.
They are asking anybody who was in Commercial Street at 2am to please come forward to the police, in particular if you have seen anybody hanging around." The Derwent Arms, situated only 150 yards from Buckrose Court, is a popular racing pub serving the people of Malton and Norton. Normally on a Saturday, regulars, including a hostof stable staff, get together to watch the racing on television, but sadness yesterday underpinned the mood of the packed bar. "It's been very sombre," said landlord Darren Rushworth. "What's happened is absolutely awful and nobody can quite believe it. I think everyone is in shock. With racing people, it's a close community and to lose two young people is just tragic. "There's been some great racing on today and normally there would be tremendous craic on in here, but the mood of the whole place has been very subdued."
Firemen at the scene of the fire in Norton, near Malton
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Sep 6, 2009|
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