Spanish police investigate destroyed apartments following nine deaths


In Valencia, Spain, firefighters and forensic authorities have recovered nine bodies from the wreckage of a 14-story apartment complex that was ravaged by fire. Initially, officials reported 10 fatalities, but later clarified that one person was missing. The fire is believed to have been exacerbated by the cladding on the building’s exterior and strong winds, causing the flames to engulf the building within minutes.

The fire reportedly started on the fourth floor of one of the two 14-story blocks, quickly spreading to the adjacent block. Firefighters were unable to reach above the 12th floor due to the rapid spread of the fire through the cladding layer, which was thinly covered with aluminium.

The College of Industrial Technical Engineers of Valencia suggested that the cladding, along with strong winds and high temperatures, could have contributed to the rapid spread of the fire. Esther Puchades, vice president of the college, stated that the speed of the fire was due to this type of cladding. Although not considered combustible, this type of cladding was permitted under building regulations when the building was completed in 2008. However, it has since been banned, and unlike in the UK following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, there was no program to remove the banned cladding in Spain.

As investigators searched through the remains of the two buildings in the Campenar neighbourhood, stories of individual bravery emerged. One caretaker named Julián was commended for his efforts to evacuate residents as the fire rapidly spread.

Among the 15 injured individuals, several were firefighters. Two remained in hospital as of Friday evening but were not in critical condition. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited the site and pledged support to local authorities responding to the tragedy.

In total, 138 apartments housing 450 people were destroyed by the fire. Local residents have been collecting food, clothing and toiletries for those displaced by the fire. A La Liga match scheduled at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium has been postponed in respect for the victims.

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