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​Four dead, TWENTY more feared killed as inferno tears through cladding on 14-storey Spanish block of flats in horrifying repeat of Grenfell Tower disaster: Heroic firefighters hauled survivors off burning balconies with others forced to JUMP


The death toll is expected to climb today after a 14-storey tower block in Spain was gutted by an uncontrollable inferno, with experts blaming its flammable cladding in a tragedy reminiscent of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

At least four people were confirmed killed last night and a further 20 were missing, feared dead, despite the heroic efforts of firefighters who braved the raging fire to haul trapped residents from their balconies.

The apartment block in Valencia caught fire at around 5.30pm on Thursday, trapping some of the 350 residents in the complex in their homes before it continued to rage on into the early hours of Friday morning.

Dramatic footage shows a man jumping several floors onto an inflatable mat to escape the raging fire, while other homeowners were seen awaiting rescue on their terraces as the flames closed in around them.

Witnesses described how the fire saw the entire block burned to the ground ‘like cork’, with the flames spreading ‘in a matter of minutes’ and moving through the main tower and then into an adjoining building, reducing the structure to a ‘skeleton’.

Dramatic video shows the moment residents trapped in a tower block inferno in Spain were rescued from their balcony

Dramatic video shows the moment residents trapped in a tower block inferno in Spain were rescued from their balcony

Flaming debris has come crashing down around firefighters as they have been working to extinguish the inferno

Flaming debris has come crashing down around firefighters as they have been working to extinguish the inferno

The apartment buildings were entirely gutted by the huge inferno, which broke out on Thursday evening

The apartment buildings were entirely gutted by the huge inferno, which broke out on Thursday evening

The fire raged late into Thursday night and left the building as little more than a shell

The fire raged late into Thursday night and left the building as little more than a shell

The tower block before the fire. Construction began on the building in 2005 and it was completed around 2009

The tower block before the fire. Construction began on the building in 2005 and it was completed around 2009

The site of the tower block fire in the Campanar area of Valencia on Avenida Maestro Rodrigo, at the junction with General Aviles

The site of the tower block fire in the Campanar area of Valencia on Avenida Maestro Rodrigo, at the junction with General Aviles

Devastated residents evacuated from the burning apartment building watch on helplessly as the fire continued to rage on

Devastated residents evacuated from the burning apartment building watch on helplessly as the fire continued to rage on

The apartment block, in the Campanar area of the port city, was covered with highly-flammable polyurethane cladding, which experts have blamed for its rapid destruction. 

The material is legal but no longer widely used after it was linked to the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, with an inquiry into the disaster being told that polyurethane and other combustible materials had been used in the building.

If cladding is to blame in this case, it could be the first fire of its kind in Spain, according to an engineer who previously surveyed the building. 

Firefighters are saying they do not expect any of the missing to be alive.

Town hall officials had earlier said 19 people were unaccounted for but the number later rose to 20.

The official death toll is not expected to rise until later today when fire crews and other emergency responders are able to access the inside of the apartment block.

Jorge Suarez, sub-director of emergencies for the regional Valencian government, said earlier this evening 14 people including at least six firefighters had been injured in the blaze.

Confirming fears there would be fatalities, he said on Thursday night: ‘We have to confirm the worst of the hypotheses that were on the table.

‘Four people have died. We can now confirm that but we can’t give out any more information at the moment.

‘Firefighters are still working exclusively outside the building on tasks related to extinguishing the blaze.

‘The characteristics of the building make it impossible to carry out any such work inside the structure so the work being done at the moment is focused on cooling down the outside and that’s going to be the focus over the next few hours.

‘I can’t say at the moment when they’re going to be able to go inside the building.’

Confirming earlier reports firefighters had sighted four bodies after they put up a drone, he added: ‘The information on the four fatalities is based on visual information we have.’

Town hall chiefs in Valencia separately confirmed 19 people thought to have been in the apartment block when the blaze started remained unaccounted for.

The 14 people injured are nine men aged between 25 and 57, four women aged between 27 and 81, and a seven-year-old boy.

Twelve of them are understood to remain in hospital, as of midnight last night.

Residents were trapped on their balconies - just metres from the flames - as they waited for firefighters to rescue them from the inferno

Residents were trapped on their balconies – just metres from the flames – as they waited for firefighters to rescue them from the inferno

Firefighters attempt to rescue two stranded residents who fled to the balcony as the building was engulfed

Firefighters attempt to rescue two stranded residents who fled to the balcony as the building was engulfed

Emergency services work at the scene of a fire of apartment building in Valencia

Emergency services work at the scene of a fire of apartment building in Valencia

Multiple fire pumps are at the scene battling the blaze, which reportedly spread from one residential building to another

Multiple fire pumps are at the scene battling the blaze, which reportedly spread from one residential building to another 

The building in the Campanar area of the port city has been completely gutted

The building in the Campanar area of the port city has been completely gutted

Devastated residents comfort each other at the scene of the huge fire in the Campanar area

Devastated residents comfort each other at the scene of the huge fire in the Campanar area

Residents were pictured watching on in horror tonight as their homes were destroyed in front of their eyes

Residents were pictured watching on in horror tonight as their homes were destroyed in front of their eyes

The multistorey building was left completely gutted, with crowds seen gathering to watch the destruction unfold

The multistorey building was left completely gutted, with crowds seen gathering to watch the destruction unfold

More than 20 fire crews have been involved in tackling the blaze, with their efforts being hampered by the wind and soaring temperatures of the fire. 

Witnesses said that firefighters managed to rescue several people, including a father and daughter, teenage boy and a couple, from their balconies.

The fire is believed to have broken out at around 5.30pm and went on to ravage the residential block, which is made up of 138 flats, the building manager told local media.

It started on the fourth floor and spread rapidly to the adjoined tower, emergency services and horrified witnesses said, with dramatic pictures showing flames and towering clouds of black smoke engulfing the building.

Speaking to local media, Esther Puchades, who is deputy head of Valencia’s Industrial Engineers Association (COGITI), said the huge fire may mark ‘a turning point’ in Spain.

In June 2017, a fire ripped through Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey high-rise in west London, killing 72 people, with the blaze spreading rapidly due to the highly combustible cladding on the block’s outside walls. A public inquiry into the disaster is still ongoing.

Speaking to Valencian TV on Thursday, Puchades explained that when construction began on the now destroyed building, ‘the bad reputation of polyurethane was not so widespread’ as it is now, in the wake of Grenfell and other disasters around the world.

‘Today it is not used, at least not in that way,’ she added, referring to increased safety measures around its usage in Spain.

A black cloud of smoke entirely engulfed the building on Thursday evening and flames

A black cloud of smoke entirely engulfed the building on Thursday evening and flames 

The fire is believed to have broken out at around 5.30pm on one floor before quickly spreading to the rest of the block

The fire is believed to have broken out at around 5.30pm on one floor before quickly spreading to the rest of the block

Firefighters have been using cranes to help rescue people from the burning building

Firefighters have been using cranes to help rescue people from the burning building

Engineer David Higuera also told Spanish newspaper El País that the building’s cladding may have been the cause of the rapid spread of the fire. 

The material is ‘very good at insulating against heat and cold, but very combustible,’ he said.

Dozens of residents were pictured watching on in horror tonight as their homes were destroyed in front of their eyes.

A resident who lives on the second floor of the building told TV channel La Sexta that ‘the fire spread in a matter of 10 minutes’ after it broke out.

He speculated that material on the facade of the building may have enabled the flames to move through the building so quickly.

A resident who lives in the building opposite told RNE radio what she saw when the fire broke out. 

‘At first the fire came out of the balconies and parts of the facade fell down,’ she said, adding that wind had blown parts of the cladding off in recent years and that it had needed to be repaired.

Spain’s TVE public television said there were more than 130 flats in the building. 

Television images showed the entire facade of the building ablaze as burning segments fell to the pavement below and small explosions were heard inside. 

Despite the speed with which the fire consumed the building, he told TVE he thought everyone had been evacuated.

The 14-storey flat has reportedly been 'reduced to a skeleton' while a nearby building has also been consumed by the flames

The 14-storey flat has reportedly been ‘reduced to a skeleton’ while a nearby building has also been consumed by the flames

A firefighter works at the scene during the building fire on February 22 in Valencia, Spain

A firefighter works at the scene during the building fire on February 22 in Valencia, Spain

Dramatic footage shows two residents desperately trying to shelter from the fire. A number of people have been rescued from their balconies by firefighters

Dramatic footage shows two residents desperately trying to shelter from the fire. A number of people have been rescued from their balconies by firefighters

One resident called Vicente was coming home after a sporting activity and got back to find the building in flames.

A woman who runs a nearby flower shop told public television the building was no more than 14 years old and had more than 100 flats, all of which were occupied.

‘What caused the fire to spread was mostly the wind,’ she said, describing scenes of ‘chaos’ as the blaze took hold, snarling traffic and sending clouds of smoke everywhere.

A field hospital was set up near the scene in case possible victims required treatment. 

Building manager and resident Adriana holds back tears as she watches the block go up in flames

Building manager and resident Adriana holds back tears as she watches the block go up in flames

Firefighters work to extinguish the flames as they continue to rip through the residential block

Firefighters work to extinguish the flames as they continue to rip through the residential block

The cause of the fire is unknown and it is not known if there are any victims

The cause of the fire is unknown and it is not known if there are any victims

Images showed flames and vast clouds of black smoke engulfing the building

Images showed flames and vast clouds of black smoke engulfing the building

Firefighters have been battling the blaze as it rages through the residential block in the eastern port city

Firefighters have been battling the blaze as it rages through the residential block in the eastern port city

Local media reported several residents calling for help from the balconies of their apartments. 

Ana Mari Gonzalez, who works in a nearby clinic, told TVE she could see firefighters working to rescue a teenage boy trapped on the building’s first floor. 

‘Please stay away from the area of the fire to let the emergency services do their work,’ Valencia’s mayor Maria Jose Catala wrote on X.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he was ‘shocked by the terrible fire’ and was in contact with the mayor and the region’s leader ‘to offer whatever help they needed’ and extending his condolences to everyone affected by the blaze.

The Spanish Royal family sent their support to emergency services and shared their ‘best wishes for recovery to the injured,’ adding that they hope there are ‘no more victims.’

‘Our hearts are with the Valencians,’ they added in the statement on X.

The building is in a relatively new area of Campanar, located north west of the city centre.



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